Investor Issues
Possible Class Action against PACL in Australia
The action holds out hope for PACL victims. But will the Supreme Court appointed committee act quickly
 
An Australian law firm, Piper Alderman, has offered to file a civil action suit to recover over AU$170 million transferred overseas by Nirmal Bhangoo, the alleged mastermind of the mammoth Rs49,100 crore ponzi scheme that has duped over 50 million Indians over a 25-year period. These investors were sold fractions of land in projects being developed by two Pearls group companies—Pearls Agrotech Corporation Ltd (PACL) and Pearls Golden Forest Ltd (PGFL). An extensive investigation in Australia by investigator Niall Coburn and the local media there has uncovered transfer of at least AU$170 million to companies in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore that are directly or indirectly controlled by Nirmal Bhangoo, founder and brain behind the Pearls 
group.  
 
Many Indian investors, angry with the slow investigation and unexplained delay in freezing and recovering their money, have formed two associations representing over 60,000 people duped by Pearls and are attempting civil action in Australia to get back their money. They are PACL Employees and Customers Protection Forum and the Janlok Prathishtan Sanghata Committee (India). 
 
The associations hired Temple Law and Nayak Associates to handle their case. These lawyers, in turn, approached Niall Coburn and Piper Alderman to pursue the class action in Australia to recover their funds. On 2 February 2016, based on an order of the Supreme Court of India (SC), the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had constituted a committee headed by Justice RM Lodha to oversee the liquidation and sale of Pearls group’s assets and refund of money to investors at the earliest, preferably within six months from the date of the order. 
 
Hence, Piper Alderman, the law firm, has written to Justice Lodha and the SEBI chairman, offering to file cross-border proceedings in Australia to bring overseas assets under control, liquidate them and get back investors’ money. The law firm’s letter says that Niall Coburn, who has been investigating PACL assets in Australia for two months, has traced assets of around $170 million and there may be “more assets held in complex structures.” It provides an extensive list of assets that have been traced in Australia through their investigation, explains the connection with Mr Bhangoo’s family and even provides a chart of the group and its linkages. These include AU$100 million in properties such as Sheraton Mirage Resort (Sheraton) on the Gold Coast through a company called Pearls Australasia Mirage 1 Pty Ltd incorporated in October 2009, Pearls Infrastructure Projects Limited and several homes and properties that are connected through Nirmal Bhangoo’s children.
 
Worryingly, Piper Alderman says that these foreign assets are not under receivership in India and can be dissipated during the slow investigation. In fact, the Sheraton is already listed for sale. Shockingly, it says that the Indian government has not even filed applications to “preserve the investor funds in other jurisdictions, such as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.” 
 
An international class action of this type, with approval from the regulator, has never been attempted before. Even if the Australian legal process is swift and enables recovery of assets, the government will have to evolve a mechanism to distribute the money among an estimated 50 million investors. The task is humungous and SEBI is still in the process of collating investor data with proof of investment. It is, however, unclear why the government is not invoking the draconian provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act or acting swiftly to preserve the overseas assets of Nirmal Bhangoo’s family. 
 
Meanwhile, the Pearls group, which has been adept at gaming the legal system for over 20 years, has already enlisted a phalanx of expensive and influential lawyers to continue its fight. There are also dark rumours about powerful people trying to derail action against the group. It is also curious that the PACL scam has evoked little interest in the Indian media, despite the massive sum involved; it is the Australian press that unearthed the massive transfer of funds and assets owned abroad. Will the Lodha committee really succeed in getting investors even a part of their investment back? Or will this be another lackadaisical pursuit that yields no result?

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COMMENTS

Senthil Vel A. Mylathal

7 months ago

For the safety of Investors in PACL the government Regulators could have suggested a proper procedure to get refund of the Invested amount through TV Channel, Newspaper etc. while they are holding PACL business with Legal actions. Still they will give awareness to the Investors not to loose amount Invested and making compliants with all Documents of Investment.

REPLY

syed Javeed basha

In Reply to Senthil Vel A. Mylathal 6 months ago

Hi Senthil Vel, I'm one of customer, I want to know when they will release the payment, I was waiting since 3 Years. can you replay me asap

manoharlalsharma

7 months ago

Moneylife sharing such a HUGE information certainly I wish HEARTY thanks and wish in SHARING in future also.

Nandan Nilekani invests in train travel app
New Delhi : Train travel solutions app RailYatri.in on Wednesday said Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani has invested an undisclosed amount in it.
 
"What excites me about RailYatri is the fact that this is a new-age product made by Indians for fellow Indians, which intelligently harnesses the power of smartphones, data and mobile payments, has a huge opportunity of impacting the lives of millions of travelers," Nilekani said in a statement.
 
Using deep analytics technology, RailYatri.in app makes intelligent predictions to make smart decision for an upcoming journey.
 
The app uses a traveller's phone GPS to predict train delay and also gives information on platform number, coach position, speed of the train, personalised alerts, on-time history of a train and also check if a waitlisted ticket will get confirmed, the statement said.
 
RailYatri.in also forayed into digital transactional marketplace, facilitating booking of onboard meals, bus tickets, budget rooms and other services.
 
"Our aspirations align with Nilekani and we believe his treasure trove of experience will help us in our endeavors," said RailYatri.in co-founder Kapil Raizada in the statement.
 
Founded by Kapil Raizada, Sachin Saxena and Manish Rathi, RailYatri.in app is currently being used by two million users per month.
 
Other existing investors of the train travel app include Helion Ventures, Omidyar Networks and Blume Ventures.
 
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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A woman with a mission: She safeguards maternal health in Himachal villages
Chamba (Himachal Pradesh) : In spite of advancing years, health worker Kaushalya, whose name roughly translates into "ability to do something well", is showing the light to women in one of the remotest areas of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh. She has, in fact, dedicated 31 years to propagating institutional deliveries and providing health services like intrauterine contraceptive device and other contraceptive methods.
 
Kaushalya, 58, has been posted at the Kalsuin health sub-centre, 17 km from this town, some 450 km from the state capital Shimla, for the past 28 years.
 
"It's only the self-motivation and my inner spirit that drive me towards someone who's in labour and needs my help. I didn't mind working odd hours and in hostile weather. I love to provide 24-hour maternal healthcare facilities," a beaming Kaushalya told IANS.
 
In her profession as a female health worker, she has performed over 3,000 deliveries and related procedures -- without even a single case of either maternal or child mortality or foetus abortion.
 
At times, she also faces, with determination, the sensitive topic of female foeticide and the bias against the female child.
 
In recognition of her efforts to promote female reproductive health in the area, dominated mainly by the marginal and small farmers, the state government has designated Kalsuin sub-centre in the Churi block as the only "delivery point" in the state.
 
The five-bedded centre, which has a labour room and a baby-care room, has a provision of one male and one female health worker each.
 
According to her, in the past one decade she has conducted over 2,500 institutional deliveries and 257 intrauterine contraceptive device insertions at the Kalsuin centre, which caters to 18 villages with a population of around 2,000.
 
Most of the time she is the lone health worker posted there, despite the provision of a male health worker. There is no provision of a gynecologist or pediatrician.
 
She has handled many emergency cases as the specialist services are far removed from the Kalsuin centre.
 
"I can handle both antenatal and postnatal care," said Kaushalya, who is retiring in December.
 
In 1985, she joined the state health services as a female health worker at Dalli in Chamba district's Bharmour block.
 
Three years later, she was transferred to Kalsuin. At that time, the health centre was functioning from the panchayat building and lacked proper infrastructure.
 
It was because of her efforts that the health centre was shifted to a new building equipped with proper facilities.
 
Kaushalya, who was trained by Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust in reproductive and child healthcare, started midwifery in 1995 by facilitating deliveries at homes. Since 2005, she has been performing institutional deliveries at the Kalsuin centre.
 
Her contribution was recognised by the state government by conferring on her a district-level award in 2010 and a state level in 2011.
 
Himachal Pradesh is the only state in the country where 89.96 percent of the population as per 2011 census lives in rural areas.
 
To appreciate the enormity of Kaushalya's contribution, one only needs to read the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, which states that Himachal Pradesh has failed to provide 24-hour maternal healthcare facilities at 84 percent of its primary health centres under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
 
Of the 500 primary health centres, only 81 (16 percent) have been upgraded to provide round-the-clock delivery services but none of these had basic obstetric and nursing facilities like availability of a gynecologist, staff nurses and skilled birth attendants, the report said.
 
It said that out of the 500 primary health centres, labour rooms and newborn care units were not available in 308 and 493 centres.
 
During 2010-15, a total of 668,442 pregnant women were registered in the state.
 
Only 354,022 (53 percent) institutional deliveries were ensured in government institutions against the targeted 467,909 (70 percent), the CAG added.
 
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

Jyoti Dua

6 months ago

Three cheers to KAUSHALYA for her dedication and devotion to work for the health of women. H P Govt needs to upgrade existing Health Centers and post additional workforce.

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