Thousands of desperate investors, who have lost money in PACL Ltd are pleading for an extension of time to submit their refund claims. PACL (or Pearls) is one of the largest Ponzi schemes in India which had been allowed to run for decades amassing over Rs49,000 crore.
Following regulatory action, investors were asked to submit refund claims for which the cut-off date was 31 July 2019. However, scores of investors have posted messages on our website pleading for time since they have not been able to upload their complaints because the website was not functioning. This is on the special portal http://sebipaclrefund.co.in/ set up by market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for this purpose.
Internet connectivity is clearly a big problem for PACL investors, many of whom are not Net-savvy and clueless about how to submit claims. This is also evident from the fact that dozens of investors have been writing to Moneylife
and sending us their identification papers and Aadhaar cards. We have repeatedly tried to draw the regulator’s attention to their plight without success. (Read: PACL Scam: SEBI asks investors not to handover documents, receipt to anyone)
On 26 April 2019, the Justice RM Lodha (retd) committee, appointed by the Supreme Court (SC), in the PACL matter had decided to extend the last date for receiving claim applications till 31 July 2019. The Justice Lodha committee is supervising the SC-ordered process of selling PACL's assets across the country and refunding Rs49,100 crore collected from over 55 million investors.
Here are few of the comments (not edited) as posted by readers on the PACL refund submission...
Sir sebipaclrefund me registration to ho gya but server down hone ki vjh se certificate or receipt upload nhi hua. Sir humble request hai 5 days tk sight open ki jay. Aapki bhut bhut mehrbani hogi.
Requesting to the SEBI Dept.. please extend the date of PACL refunds applications.... so many customers are didn't submits their' s Documents on online... so please extend the date of PACL refunds applications...
Actually they should close the website at 12 pm at midnight…they have closed it at evening 3.30pm suddenly…else I could apply all applications...remained 8 applications...tried a lot up to 11.30 at night..?
We have more than 10 application still to submit. we were doing yesterday night and suddenly from 4 o’clock pacl website was very slow and around 10 it stopped working. SO we couldn't complete it.
Your website sometime not working. I had uploaded all the documents. But your website stopped working even before submitting. Please increase submission date.
I have been trying to upload all the PACL receipts along with the Certificate for last 6 to 7 days. But server was very slow and after some time it got disconnected. But after several attempts I was unable to upload the 22 nos. of receipts and as mentioned before on the website it is showing the PACL site has been closed on 31.07.2019. It was very precious for us to get the refund.
Therefore, kindly extend the period few days more so that we can upload the receipts. We will ever be grateful to your act of kindness.
Sir kal site chal nahi rahi thi eske Karan kuch gaon ke logo ke application online karne se rahe hai to plz 2 ya 3 din ki mudat our badhai jai.
Moneylife, on 1 August 2019 sent an email to SEBI chairman and the Justice Lodha Committee through its Nodal Officer highlighting difficulties faced by PACL investors while submitting refund claims online. However, there is no response from either of them. We will update this article as and when we receive any response from SEBI or the Justice Lodha Committee.
has been continuously raising the issues faced by PACL investors with SEBI. We even offered to hold camps at our office to help investors file their refund claims online. However, all SEBI could reply to us was there is a video, which explains how to file refund claims using SMS and web-portal. (Read: The Travails of PACL Victims
In an email, SEBI had said, "There are two modes for submitting a refund application namely SMS (which in turn re-directs to the mobile-portal after authentication) and web- portal. The demo videos on submitting refund application are available on https://sebicommitteepaclrefund.com, which provide step by step assistance to the investor for applying for refund using both SMS and web-portal. These videos are available in Hindi and English. "
However, the unending flood of comments from PACL investors that continue to pour on our articles show there is a need to extend the last date for claim submission as well as handhold investors in this process.
Last year in September, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a charge-sheet against PACL and it 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.
The mobilisation of funds by PACL goes back prior to 1997. Upon 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.
PACL challenged these letters before the High Court of Rajasthan in December 1999, claiming that its scheme does not fall under the definition of CIS as defined under the CIS Regulation and SEBI Act. PACL also challenged the constitutional validity of the CIS Regulations.
The Rajasthan High Court, on 28 November 2003, held that PACL's schemes were not CIS as defined under Section 11AA of the SEBI Act. The HC also quashed SEBI's letters issued to PACL.
SEBI filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the order of Rajasthan HC. The SC, on 25 February 2013, while allowing the appeal upheld the constitutional validity of CIS Regulations, and directed SEBI to investigate the matter and take appropriate actions.
After conducting an inquiry, SEBI, on 22 August 2014, issued an order directing PACL, its promoters and directors to wind up all the existing CIS and refund the monies collected by the company to investors as per the terms of offer within a period of three months from the date of the Order.
PACL filed an appeal before the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), which was dismissed on 12 August 2015. The SAT directed PACL and its promoters-directors to refund the money within three months. Since the company and its promoters-directors failed to refund the money to the investors as per the directions of SEBI and SAT, the market regulator said it has initiated the recovery proceedings.
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