Companies & Sectors
PACL Scam: India seeks to freeze assets worth $130 million in Australia
Indian authorities, probing the Rs55,000 crore PACL scam, are likely to request Australian authorities to freeze assets bought by the company there, by funnelling investors' money
 
Indian authorities are likely to meet Australian Federal Police over next the few days and request them to freeze assets in that country related with PACL Ltd, formerly known as Pearl Agrotech that were bought with more than $130 million funnelled by the company and its founder Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, reveals a report from The Australian. 
 
The report says, "The source at India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said the agency had not yet contacted its counterparts in Australia to have Pearls assets in Australia frozen. However, the meeting scheduled for next week, a committee headed by the former chief justice of India, RM Lodha, will meet to discuss what to do next. It will decide what directions are given to the CBI and to the corporate regulator, the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI)."
 
Separately, SEBI said it has constituted a three-member Committee as per the directions from the Supreme Court. The Committee would be headed by Justice RM Lodha, and will have S Raman, Whole Time Member of SEBI and Amit Pradhan, Chief General Manager and Regional Director for North at SEBI, as members. The Committee would dispose land purchased by PACL so that the sale proceeds can be paid to the investors, who have invested their funds in the Company for purchase of the land, SEBI said in a release.

The market regulator has also appointed Rakesh Kumar Singh, Deputy General Manager, as Nodal Officer-cum-Secretary of the Committee.
 
The assets, which are likely to be frozen, include the Gold Coast Sheraton Mirage Resort, which Pearls Australasia bought for $62 million in 2009 and spent about $20 million renovating. PACL which has been asked to repay about Rs55,000 crore by the Indian regulators, also paid almost $300,000 to cricketer Brett Lee to promote its Ponzi scheme, the report says.
 
A police source from the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation told The Australian yesterday that "Rs1.4 crores" was sent by Pearls to a company called Insite Organisation in Sydney in 2011.
 
A source at SEBI told the newspaper that the Lodha committee could direct authorities to instigate a freeze of Pearls' assets in Australia at this meeting and at present, the investigations are focused in and around India.
 
Police have also discovered more than 66 office buildings in Delhi's prestigious Connaught Place and hundreds of hectares of land held under shell companies.
 
Neil Maxwell, who was until recently Lee's manager, is a founding director of Insite (now called Hoatson Maxwell) and Lee's brother, Shane, is a former company director. Maxwell confirmed the $300,000 payment yesterday, saying that he and Lee had been introduced to Pearls Group in India by Austrade, the report says.
 
Maxwell was quoted by the newspaper as saying, "It was a referral from an Australian government body and if police want to discuss it, I will talk with them."
 
Maxwell told The Australian that he was no longer able to speak on behalf of Lee and the cricketer's new-manager, Jake Elder, told the newspaper that the cricketer had no comment to make regarding the Pearls’ matter.
 
In 2010, PACL roped in Australian speedster Brett Lee as its brand ambassador. During a press conference announcing his appointment, Lee had reportedly said, "It's not about only being a brand ambassador, but I am proud to be a family member of Pearls Group. I feel every person is being touched by Pearls around the world. I certainly believe that Pearls is the best."
 
In the advertising campaign, Lee was filmed building sandcastles with kids and jogging on a beach in Goa. "He stood in front of a camera dressed in a white sports coat and recited the firm's mantra: 'Touching hearts, building confidence. Pearls Infrastructure', the news report says.
 
The Australian had reported that on the website Brett-Lee.net Pearls was listed as one of the companies Lee was endorsing. However, it appears that brettlee.com.au is his official website and Pearls is no longer endorsed on this site, the report says.

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COMMENTS

D S Ranga Rao

1 year ago

Welcome news. But still, it appears that the regulating bodies like various nationalized banks, RBI, SEBI, DRI, etc., much older than the cheat firm, PACL, have not yet learnt the norm:"A stitch in time, saves nine". Unless such white collar crimes are nipped in the bud, any amount of fire fighting afterwards amounts only to crying over the spilt milk. Let the government recover the lost money from the pockets of those officials of the aforesaid agencies who stood by the PACL like the blind, deaf and dumb lot and pay back to the investors.

Coming, a 'made in India' Android smartphone for Rs.251!
New Delhi : What can you buy with Rs.251 -- a meal at McDonald's or a cold coffee at Starbucks? Well, if technology has its way, you will be able to buy the world's cheapest -- and "made in India" -- Android smartphone for this much money.
 
Offered by an Indian company Ringing Bells, "Freedom 251" is a smartphone that has features like Android 5.1 operating system, a 4-inch qHD IPS display, a 3.2-megapixel primary and a 0.3-megapixel front camera, for just Rs.251. 
 
Set for launch on Wednesday in the Capital, it has 3G connectivity and has a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal memory and supports external memory cards of up to 32GB.
 
The smartphone comes with pre-installed apps like Swachh Bharat, Women Safety, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, among others.
 
To power "Freedom 251", the company has put a 1,450mAh battery and claims to have a service network of 650 centres across India.
 
The smartphone will be available for pre-order on the company website from February 18.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

jossie

1 year ago

This could be another scam in the making with BJP leaders involved in the launch of the cheap smart Phone.

How can some company claim to sell phone at Rs 251/- where as Industry expert say that the cost cannot be less than Rs 3000/-. Today paper say that the company expect to make a profit of Rs 31/- from each phone sold.

Andrew Vinoj

1 year ago

I believe it to be a fraud

Ramesh Poapt

1 year ago

vow!!! Great !!!
Achhe din aye kya!!!

Cyber thieves selling your information for millions: Researchers
New York : Cyber thieves who steal credit and debit card numbers are selling your information for millions of dollars, a team of researchers has warned.
 
Thomas J Holt, Michigan State University criminologist and lead investigator of one of the first scientific studies to estimate cybercrime profits, said the findings should be a wake-up call for consumers and law enforcement officials.
 
"In the past two years, there have been hundreds of data breaches involving customer information, some very serious like the Target breach in 2013. It is a real economic phenomenon that has real economic impact and consequences," said Holt, associate professor of criminal justice.
 
For the results, Holt and fellow researchers analysed online forums in English and Russian where criminals sold stolen financial and personal information, often in batches of 50 or 100.
 
On average, a batch of 50 stolen credit or debit cards can make a seller between about $250,000 and $1 million.
 
Although, buyers, in turn, assume more risk of getting caught but if they succeed in using the information, they could make between $2 million (if only 25 percent of the cards worked) and nearly $8 million (if all cards worked).
 
"If we do not understand the scope of this problem, if we just treat it as a nuisance, then we are going to enable and embolden this as a form of crime that would not stop," Holt noted in a paper published in the journal Deviant Behavior.
 
Ultimately, Holt said he hopes to help protect consumers from the potentially disastrous effects of identity theft and credit fraud.
 
"My goal is make people cognizant of just how much their personal information means, how much value there is," Holt said, adding that "if we don't understand the scope of this problem, if we just treat it as a nuisance, then we're going to enable and embolden this as a form of crime that won't stop."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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