Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Enforcement Directorate attaches City Group Swiss accounts

The Enforcement Directorate has attached the Swiss bank accounts of Sayed Mohamed Masood, chairman of City Limouzine, and other group companies which are being investigated for alleged financial fraud, sources within the ED told TOI. This is the first such move under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and possibly marks the dismantling of the Swiss wall of customer confidentially.

Experts say the move could also have implications for the fight against black money.

The Enforcement Directorate is investigating the City Group and Masood for alleged money laundering. The group had floated investment schemes offering high returns, as much as 48% in some cases. 

ED sources say that they were able to convince Swiss authorities that the funds in some of the Swiss bank accounts of Masoos were "proceeds of crime". They said Swiss authorities were convinced and cooperated in freezing some of the bank accounts. The PMLA adjudicating authority now has to confirm the attachments and once it is done ED will take possession of the funds, the source said. If the conviction goes through in the case, the funds will be brought back to India, the source said.

ED is conducting investigations into the money laundering in countries abroad in the case. Sources said the investigations so far have revealed that Masood maintained bank accounts in Switzerland in his name and the name of his companies.

ED has now attached these bank accounts which had a balance of $ 1.25 million. Investigations have also revealed huge transactions in foreign bank accounts and further probe is on in the case. The ED sources say more domestic and international attachments are likely soon.

According to the ED, City Limouzines (India) Ltd., City Realcom Ltd., its chairman Sayed Mohamed Masood and other directors of the companies have allegedly duped thousands of investors across the country of funds to the tune of hundreds of crores.

Police across the country are investigating Sayed Mohamed Masood, and City Group of Companies for cheating and criminal conspiracy under sections 120-B and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, the sources said.

ED sources say investigations have uncovered huge money laundering in India and abroad. During the course of investigations, the Enforcement Directorate has issued 14 attachment orders attaching movable and immovable properties in

India with a market value of over Rs 130 crores which were registered in the names of City group of companies, Masood, his wife, daughter, son and other directors.

The PMLA adjudicating authority has confirmed all the attachment orders and ED is in the process of taking over these properties, the sources said.  

TNN | Oct 8, 2012, 01.00AM IST

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