The Union government says Justice (Retd) RM Lodha committee appointed by the Supreme Court had received about 1.50 crore claim applications from investors of PACL Ltd and is refunding money phase-wise and claim amount-wise depending upon the corpus available.
Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, Pankaj Chaudhary, minister of state for finance, says, “A committee under the chairmanship of Justice (retd) RM Lodha was constituted for disposing of the properties of PACL, and pay the sale proceeds to the investors of PACL. The committee had invited refund claim applications vide press release dated 2 January 2018, and 8 February 2019. The committee had received around 1.50 crore claim applications. The committee has adopted phase-wise and claim amount-wise refund of monies to investors of PACL. depending upon the corpus available with the committee and after verifying the claims submitted by the investors.”
Member of parliament (MP) Subhash Chandra Baheria has asked the question whether Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has formulated any strategy for payment to PACL investors according to the judgement of Supreme Court (SC) and specific timelines for repayment.
The minister further revealed that it was envisaged that only the principal 'amount to be paid to investors in different phases and giving preference to small investors.
Mr Baheria had also asked about the way the payment of the principal amount with interest thereon would be made to the investors who did not submit the applications on online portal due to submission of their original bond in the company and the likely timelines for repayment of the same.
Mr Chaudhary replied saying “In respect of investors, who have not submitted applications through online portal, the committee vide public notice dated 16 October 2019 informed the investors to await notification in this regard by the comnittee in due course”.
In response to a query seeking item wise total movable and immovable property or bank deposits of PACL, the minister shared the following details:
The company had Rs308.04 crore in bank deposits and Rs98.45 crore in fixed deposits which has been fully recovered.
SEBI has further received Rs369.20 crore which pertains to two immovable properties located in Australia after the market regulator filed a claim petition in Federal Court of Australia.
When asked if the government has formulated any action plan to compensate the poor investors cheated by chit fund companies or co-operative societies through their budget and if so, the details thereof, Mr Chaudhary, the minister replied that no such proposal is under consideration by the government.
Replying to what strategy has been chalked out by the government to protect the interest of the investor in future, Mr Chaudhary says, “Central Government has notified Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, vide notification in Gazette of India dated 12 February 2020 which bans deposit takers from promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any unregulated deposit scheme”.
In February 2019, a committee headed by retired justice Lodha had initiated the process of refunds in phases for investors, who had invested in PACL.
PACL (or Pearls) is one of the largest Ponzi schemes in India which had been allowed to run for decades amassing over Rs60,000 crore. The committee had asked PACL investors to submit online applications for refund.
The justice Lodha committee has been processing applications received from investors in a phased manner, slab-wise and, currently, applications with claim amount up to Rs10,000 have been processed and payments have been made in respect of eligible claim applications.