New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday said it has attached assets worth Rs 31.16 crore of a Kerala-based financing group and its promoters in a money laundering case linked to alleged duping of investors to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore.
Twenty-three immovable properties, including land and buildings located in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, 32 kg of depositors' re-pledged gold kept in 1,132 banks accounts,18 luxury vehicles such as Mercedez Benz, Toyota etc., 23 fixed deposits of promoters of the Popular Finance group, and 732 current accounts have been attached as part of a provisional order issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED said as many as 1,300 FIRs were filed by the Kerala Police in various districts in this case and "about 3,000 depositors were cheated to the tune of around Rs 1,000 crore."
"Popular Finance and allied entities are family-controlled business and Thomas Daniel and Rinu Mariam Thomas (father and daughter duo) were controlling the entire business, spread across 270 branches in Kerala and other states."
"The deposits taken from general public were illegal and without any statutory permission from any regulatory agencies like RBI," the ED said in a statement.
The hard-earned money of general public, mobilised as deposits by luring them of high interest rates, have been "illegally utilised for purchase of properties and high-end cars, parked as fixed deposits in the name of family members and also got remitted abroad for non-viable and sham business enterprises."
It alleged that the company had no viable business to sustain the "promise of higher interest" to depositors.
"They were paying interests and matured amount out of deposits taken from general public only. The gold pledged by the general public were re-pledged for availing loans and the loan proceeds got routed to personal accounts of the family," the agency claimed.
Thomas Daniel, managing director of the company, and chief executive officer Rinu Mariam were arrested by the ED in August and they are in judicial custody at present.