Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday conducted searches at various locations in three cities across the country, including Mumbai, and also froze bank funds of Rs90 crore as part of its money-laundering probe into a case involving Vihaan Direct Selling (India) Pvt Ltd, and others.
Accused of duping investors, Vihaan Direct Selling (India) is the master franchisee company in India of another firm, Qnet Ltd, a multi-level marketing company, according to the ED.
The agency on Wednesday said its teams conducted searches at five locations in Mumbai and two locations each in Bengaluru and Chennai. The agency also froze funds belonging to 36 bank accounts linked to several companies/individuals/proprietorship connected with the case as part of its actions on Tuesday.
The ED had initiated its probe on the basis of a case registered by the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) against Qnet Ltd, Vihaan Direct Selling (India) and other companies and individuals. “During the investigation, it was revealed that Vihaan allegedly used/ floated various shell companies / dummy proprietorship for routing the funds received from the huge number of innocent investors,” an ED official said.
The official added, “Vihaan duped a huge number of people in India by way of investing their hard-earned money in a Ponzi scheme in the guise of direct selling business.”
The EOW case had been registered in August 2013 under the Prize, Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 and the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors Act. “The probe showed that the investors were allegedly duped by promising to them huge profits without informing them of the nature of the business and the details of utilisation of their invested money,” the official said.
As per the case registered by the police, it was suspected that the estimated proceeds of crime is about Rs400 crore, the ED said. “However, during the course of investigation, it has been observed that more than Rs2,000 crore has been routed by way of opening various shell companies by these entities,” the official said.
“As a result of the searches carried out on Tuesday, various incriminating documents and digital devices were seized that are being scrutinised for evidentiary value,” the official said.
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