The justice (retd) RM Lodha committee, which is supervising the Supreme Court (SC)-ordered process of selling PACL's assets, has allowed investors to update their mobile numbers on the separate portal, https://www.sebipaclrefund.co.in
set up by Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
In a release, SEBI says, “The justice Lodha committee has been receiving queries from investors regarding non-receipt of SMS calling for original PACL certificates owing to change of mobile number. Many investors have stated that mobile numbers provided by them during submission of online claims are no longer operational.”
The Committee has provided the following facilities to investors and applicants of PACL on the web portal https://www.sebipaclrefund.co.in
. The portal has a facility for changing or updating mobile numbers on the enquiry and refund portal. It also provides a facility to enquire whether SMS has been sent to the investors calling for original PACL certificate.
This was applicable only to those investors whose claim money is between Rs10,001 and Rs15,000 and whose applications were verified.
SEBI also warned PACL investors against submitting their original PACL registration certificates without receiving an SMS from the justice Lodha committee.
SEBI's investigations had earlier revealed that PACL, which had raised money from the public in the name of agriculture and real estate businesses, collected more than Rs60,000 crore through illegal collective investment schemes (CISs) over 18 years. Moneylife had extensively reported on the PACL scam and here to be linked.
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 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.
The documents uploaded by the PACL investors are verified and then payment amount is calculated, applications processed and, subsequently, payments are processed.
The mobilisation of funds by PACL goes back prior to 1997. On receipt of a complaint, SEBI on 30 November 1999 and 10 December 1999 issued letters asking PACL to comply with the provisions of the collective investment scheme (CIS) regulations.
In September 2018, the enforcement directorate (ED) had filed a charge-sheet against PACL and its chief Nirmal Singh Bhangoo in connection with a Ponzi scam involving over Rs49,100 crore, which was collected allegedly by two companies from millions of investors. The ED, which started the probe after lodging an first information report (FIR) in 2015 based on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)'s case, had, in January 2018, attached Australia-based assets of the Pearls group and Mr Bhangoo worth Rs472 crore.
Mr Bhangoo, his companies PACL and Pearls Golden Forest Ltd (PGFL), as well as several thousands of his commission agents were accused of cheating 55 million investors on the pretext of sale and development of agriculture land.
The companies made false allotments of land to investors. However, the companies never owned any land in their own name.
Mr Bhangoo and his companies promised the investors that allotment would be done on their investment between 90 and 270 days and, if not, handsome returns would be paid.