Plea in HC for probe into franchisee scam; court seeks replies from Centre, CBI, ED

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New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Centre, CBI and ED to reply to two separate pleas for a probe into a 'franchisee scam' under which several persons were cheated of crores of rupees allegedly by DBM Retails Pvt Ltd, its subsidiary Westland Trade Pvt Ltd and their directors.

Justice Anu Malhotra issued notice to the ministries of home affairs and finance as also the CBI, ED and Delhi Police seeking their stand on the two petitions moved by the victims of the alleged franchisee racket.

The court listed the matter for hearing on April 22.

The petitions were moved in the Delhi High Court after the Supreme Court on February 8 said it had made a 'mistake' by agreeing to examine the matter and asked the petitioners to move the high court instead.

In their pleas, filed through advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, the victims have claimed that the two companies floated bogus entities such as Hyper Supermarket and Hyper Mart to invite investors, like the petitioners, who were then duped of their money.

The petition seeks an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) or by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into various offences, including money laundering and black money hoarding, allegedly committed by the directors and beneficiaries of the two companies.

It claimed that the companies collected franchise fees of several lakhs from people, assuring certain payout and by this method attracted around 500 investors.

Thereafter, the money taken from the victims was siphoned off into ghost companies or were used in benami transactions, the petitions have alleged.

'The injury is large because under a well planned conspiracy, directors, sleeping partners and employees deceived the petitioners by fraudulently and dishonestly inducing them to deliver their hard earned money,' the two pleas have alleged. PTI HMP SA