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R.M. Lodha Panel for Refund of PACL Investors
Feb 10, 2016

The Supreme Court recently appointed an expert committee headed by former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha to monitor the sales of assets and refund of money to the investors of PACL. A bench, comprising justices Anil Dave and Adarsh Goel, also said that the title deeds of various lands belonging to PACL should be handed over by the CBI to the SEBI, which shall accordingly take appropriate steps to ensure their sale for the purpose of refunding the money to the investors.

  • The court also directed the Pearls Agrotech Corporation Ltd (PACL) not to accept any deposit from the public and restrained any court from interfering with sale proceedings. 

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has initiated recovery proceedings against PACL Ltd and its promoters and directors, including Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, for their failure to refund Rs 49,100 crore to investors. 

  • Earlier, the SEBI had passed a refund order against the various group companies of PACL after finding them guilty of illegitimately pooling funds from the public through a collective investment scheme. 

  • SEBI has found that PACL had collected money from crores of investors through unauthorised collective investment schemes in the name of real estate projects. 

  • It is also said to have been involved in agricultural land-related schemes. 

  • The plea was filed by PACL Customers and Employees Association seeking a direction to the SEBI to initiate proceedings against PACL for allegedly swindling around Rs 500 crore from various investors in Kerala.

  • The committee will take over the assets of PACL (formerly Pearls Agrotech Corporation Limited) and group companies and refund the investors from whom Rs 49,000 crore is said to have been collected. SEBI has been told to co-ordinate asset sale and refund.

  • The Supreme Court barred other courts from hearing petitions on the scam. 

  • PACL has also been barred from collecting funds from the public.

Background: The CBI has already arrested the group chief Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, who is accused of cheating 50 million investors by promising land in return for money. The group is said to have land in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and Maharashtra. It is also said that the group has assets in Australia.

SEBI had started its probe two years ago after receiving complaints from investors. It had initiated recovery proceedings against the company, its promoters, and directors. The company then challenged SEBI in the Rajasthan High Court, which granted it relief. SEBI then appealed to the Supreme Court, which asked SEBI to investigate and take action.


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