Mumbai: ED seizes Rs 37-cr worth deposits, cash in Ponzi case


PTI, Jun 24, 2024, 3:19 PM IST

New Delhi: Bank and demat account deposits apart from cash worth about Rs 37 crore has been seized by the ED as part of a money laundering probe against a Mumbai-based financial consultant and his company who are alleged to have duped investors of Rs 600 crore through a Ponzi scheme.

The federal agency said on Sunday that the action was undertaken after carrying out raids in the metropolitan city on June 21 against Amber Dalal and his company Ritz Consultancy Services.

The Enforcement Directorate case of money laundering stems from a Mumbai Police FIR that charged the Chartered Accountant and his company with taking money from investors through a “suspected Ponzi scheme that promised high returns.” Dalal “absconded” with this money after giving initial returns. It has been gathered that Dalal raised more than Rs 600 crore from 1,300 investors, the ED said in a statement.

He was arrested by the EOW, Mumbai Police and is presently under judicial custody, it said.

Dalal raised money from investors on the pretext that he invested the funds in nine commodities like gold, silver, crude oil, natural gas, zinc, lead, nickel, copper, aluminium and their trade, ensuring the capital is safe and promising an annual return of 18-22 per cent to his investors, the ED alleged.

Using the same modus operandi, he raised money from investors in UAE and USA as well, it said.

The search operations unveiled a network of stockbrokers, investment advisors who brought clients in lieu of commission. It is also found that payment received from new investment were being utilised to pay out the monthly returns to the old investors, it said.

Dalal “diverted” the funds received in Ritz’s account to personal accounts, which were further routed to family member’s accounts and used for creating assets, the ED said.

He “diverted” about Rs 51 crore to his personal accounts. These funds were used to acquire assets in India and abroad, it said.

The ED has identified eight such immovable properties in India and two abroad.

“Other than from banking channels, investments were made through cash as well, which was then infused in books as accommodation entries in connivance with Mumbai-based jewellers.

“Returns on such cash-based investments were given to investors in India and abroad (including UK, UAE) by hawala operators,” the ED said.

Cash, bank deposits, Demat account holdings to the tune of Rs 37 crore have been frozen and various incriminating documents, digital devices have been seized during the searches, it said.

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