Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached properties worth around Rs 1,317 crore linked to Ireo Group, which is alleged to have laundered Rs 1,225 crore through tax havens, such as British Virgin Islands.
According to the ED, the attached properties consist of commercial spaces, residential premises, land and bank accounts belonging to Lalit Goyal, the chairman-manager of the company, associated entities, and key managerial personnel. In November last year, the agency arrested Goyal at the IGI Airport in connection with its investigation of money laundering.
According to the investigation, they duped innocent buyers by promising them flats/lots/commercial spaces, etc., but did not deliver the projects nor return their money. On Saturday, the ED revealed that the directors of the company had siphoned off money collected from buyers and had sent it outside the country instead of using it for the intended purpose.
An investigation by the ED against the company was filed on January 14, 2014, and it stated that a total of Rs 1,225 crore in customer receipts had been diverted outside India in the form of redemptions, purchases, transfers, buybacks, and FCDs. As a result, the Foreign Direct Investment policy and other laws have been violated. A number of entities based in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Mauritius route funds to India using the group’s modus operandi, record fictitious expenses as expenses in the books of accounts, write off projects in progress, take advantage of interest-free loans and advances and round-trip funds through shell companies to sister concerns, and create assets within and outside of India, according to the ED’s complaint.
The ED had also mentioned in its statement following Goyal’s arrest that the Indian Express investigations into the Pandora Papers had revealed that Goyal moved approximately $77 million (Rs 575 crore approximately) through investments, shareholdings and real estate at a time when home buyers and investors were running for their money.
On the basis of 30 FIRs filed at various police stations across Gurugram, Panchkula, Ludhiana, Delhi against IREO Private Limited, IREO Fiveriver Private Limited, Lalit Goyal, and others for defrauding their customers, ED initiated the money laundering investigation.
A Pandora Papers investigation by The Deccan Era revealed that Goyal’s sister is married to Sudhanshu Mittal, a BJP leader. The group was in trouble long before the transfer of assets, investments, and shareholdings to an offshore trust structure including four British Virgin Islands-registered entities. An internal document of Trident Trust, a global corporate services firm, revealed this information.
According to the latest assessment filed with the Indian tax authorities, Sasttra Legal, Advocates and Solicitors, on behalf of Goyal, has stated that he is a non-resident Indian. This law firm has reiterated that Mr Lalit Goyal has made all investments legitimately and no funds from homebuyers have been invested or illegally siphoned off.