ED files chargesheet in Ponzi fraud case that duped lakhs of depositors

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New Delhi, Feb 2 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed its first chargesheet in a money laundering case linked to an alleged multi-crore Ponzi scheme perpetrated in Telangana and few other states in 2018.

The central probe agency said on Tuesday that the prosecution complaint was filed under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against 28 people, including prime accused Nowhera Shaikh.

Shaikh, the managing director of Heera group of companies, was arrested by the agency in 2019 along with few others. She was also arrested by the Telangana and Maharashtra Police in this case that year.

The ED booked a PMLA case against Shaikh, her associates and others after studying FIRs filed against them by various state police departments.

Shaikh has been charged by the ED of hatching a 'well-planned conspiracy and luring innocent people to deposit their savings with her for profit sharing rather than interest, which is not allowed in Islam.' 'She incorporated Heera group of companies and initially paid the monthly assured so-called profit to win the trust of the gullible victims,' the ED alleged in a statement.

Later, it said, by engaging a network of marketing executives and direct selling agents working on commission basis, Shaikh collected deposits to the tune of Rs 5,600 crore from around 1,72,000 investors across the country by making false promises of paying high rate of returns like that of 3 per cent per month (36 pc to 40 pc per year).

'For this fraud, she had opened around 250 accounts in various banks across the country and eight accounts were opened in UAE and Saudi Arabia.' 'They diverted the depositors' amounts to their personal accounts for and amassed huge movable and immovable assets,' the ED said.

Shaikh and Heera group did 'not possess' any valid permission either under the Banking Regulation Actor from the RBI or from any other government agency such as SEBI for collecting deposits, the ED said.

Assets worth Rs 299.99 crore were attached by the ED in this case earlier. PTI NES AAR AAR