ED to attach $14 mn in bank accounts of City Limousine chairman in Singapore
ED, which probes forex violations, had sent its team to Singapore in July this year to attach over $26 million lying in Masood’s accounts in two other banks.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to attach $14 million lying in two bank accounts of City Limousine chairman Sayed Mohamed Masood in Singapore. Masood is facing charges of money laundering, and the Singapore government has granted permission to attach his assets, according to ED officials. The accounts are in the branches of Bank Julius Baer and UBS.
The ED is probing a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against City Limousine and Masood for running an alleged ponzi scheme. It is alleged that two City Group companies — City Limousine and City Realcom — collected over Rs 1,000 crore from thousands of investors across the country by floating car rental schemes and promising unrealistic returns of up to 48 per cent on investments. In 2009, the companies defaulted on payment to investors and more than 42,000 cheques issued by it were dishonoured, the ED said.
In May, Masood and his wife Chand Kauser Mohamed Masood were named in Switzerland’s official gazette with regard to ongoing tax probes in India. They are among five Indian nationals with Swiss bank accounts whose names have been made public.
“This will be the first full attachment of overseas assets in a PMLA case. This fresh attachment in this case will take the total attached amount to about $40 million,” an official familiar with the development told The Indian Express.
ED, which probes forex violations, had sent its team to Singapore in July this year to attach over $26 million lying in Masood’s accounts in two other banks. In 2013, the competent authority in Singapore froze all his accounts following a Letter Rogatory (LR) by ED asking for its cooperation in the investigation.
LR is a formal request to a foreign court seeking judicial assistance in investigating an entity in another country.
Apart from this, the Swiss government that already allowed ED to attach $1.25 million in two Swiss accounts maintained by Masood and his firm in 2014, has now agreed to repatriate the funds to India and has told the enforcement agency to start the process for repatriation, according to ED sources. “The agency will now submit an application before the trial court seeking its nod for repatriation of funds,” said an ED official who did not wish to be named.
Prior to the ED probe, several FIRs were registered against Masood and his companies in Mumbai, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Delhi for criminal conspiracy, cheating and breach of trust. In Chennai alone, at least 35,000 investors have filed claims with the Tamil Nadu Economic Offices Wing.
In October 2012, ED had issued 16 orders to attach moveable and immoveable properties worth over Rs 200 crore of the City Group of Companies, Masood, his associates as well as family members in India.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court transferred 132 cases pending against Masood in various courts across the country to a special court in Mumbai that deals with PMLA. The aim was to expedite trial in the City Limousine case. Masood is currently lodged in jail.