CHANDIGARH: Real Estate major Pearls group MD Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, who has several infrastructure projects in Punjab and has been the major sponsor of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal-led Kabbadi World cup events, has been booked by the CBI in a Rs 45,000-crore scam for allegedly duping investors by promising agriculture land.
The CBI has registered a case of criminal conspiracy and cheating under Sections 120B and 420 of IPC against Bhangoo, his two companies Pearls Agrotech Corporation Limited (PACL) and Pearls Golden Forest Limited (PGFL) and their director Sukhdev Singh.
While the case was registered on February 22 on the orders of the Supreme Court, the agency revealed the details of the scam on Thursday.
Bhangoo's companies had collected crores of rupees through deposits from public at large through infamous ponzi scheme, promising land.
"Investigations have revealed that Bhangoo's companies raised investments from over 5 crore gullible investors through collective investment scheme under the garb of sale and development of agricultural land," said the CBI statement, a copy of which is with TOI.
The companies were found to have raised investments by issuing bogus land allotment letters to induce the investors, it added.
The CBI had been conducting a series of raids over the last five days on the office premises and residences of Bhangoo and Sukhdev in Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana.
"The raids had led to recovery of huge records and data relating to deposits from public and their misutilization and diversion of funds, besides other incriminating documents," CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad told TOI.
Earlier, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had raised concerns over legality of PACL's operations as it was running a collective investment scheme in the garb of a real estate company.
"The money was collected by the company as investment from various depositors and later used to buy land across the country that had run into 1.85 lakh acre according to the registrar of companies," another CBI official said.
"The company would lure customers who would then become its agents by promises like double your money in six years," he said.
In Ponzi schemes, returns are given to investors from the money collected from other depositors in a pyramid-like structure. The company has infrastructure projects in several cities of Punjab, including Mohali, Zirakpur and Bathinda.