The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday attached properties worth Rs 4,109 crore of the Agri Gold Group of Companies in a Ponzi scheme fraud case worth Rs 6,380 crore. The financial probe agency had arrested three promoters of the group on Wednesday.
The ED has arrested Avva Venkata Rama Rao, Avva Venkata Seshu Narayana Raon and Avva Hema Sundara Vara Prasad, the main accused under the sections of the prevention of money laundering act (PMLA). They have been sent to 14-day judicial custody by the Hyderabad court.
An ED official on Thursday said the agency attached assets worth Rs 4,109 crore under the Prevention of Money laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in the Agri Gold Ponzi fraud case.
The attached assets include 2,809 landed properties, Haailand Amusement Park of Arka Leisure and Entertainments Private Limited spread over 48 acres in Mangalagiri in Andhra Pradesh, shares of various companies, plants and machinery.
The attached properties are located in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur, Kurnool, Krishna, Chittoor, Guntur, Kadapa, Vizianagaram, East and West Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Prakasam, Srikakulam and Kadapa districts.
The ED attached properties of the group in Karnataka's Bengaluru, Kolar, Yadgir and Mandya districts. The ED also attached properties of the group in Odisha's Khurda and Tamil Nadu's Krishnagiri district. The official said the agency attached properties of the group in Telangana's Narayanpet, Khammam, Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Vikarabad, Medchal, Malkajgiri, Nalgonda, and Mahabubnagar districts.
The ED has registered a case on multiple FIRs lodged in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
According to ED, the scam was perpetrated by accused Avva Venkata Rama Rao through Agri Gold Group of Companies. Avva Venkata Rama Rao hatched a well-planned conspiracy along with his seven brothers and other associates and set up more than 150 companies, the agency said. The group started collecting deposits from the general public with a promise of providing developed plots/farm lands or withdrawal at a high rate of return on maturity/pre-term, ED alleged.
“Thousands of commission agents were engaged to lure people with various schemes for hefty commission and managed to collect Rs 6,380 crore from 32 lakh investors accounts.
"In the end, the gullible investors neither got plots nor could recover their deposits," the official said. During the probe it was revealed that Agri Gold Group Companies used to lure the gullible public to join as depositors in their schemes either directly or through their agents under the pretext of real estate deals, the ED official said.
“Investigation further revealed that Avva Venkata Rama Rao and his family went on a siphoning spree and illegally diverted the public deposits and invested in myriad verticals and in private companies which were directly owned by their family,” he said.
The official said that their names also figured in the Paradise Leaks and they had incorporated companies with the help of the infamous Mossack Fonseca in Cayman Islands.
(This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission)