ED arrests IREO group’s Lalit Goyal in money laundering case
A few days after being apprehended at Delhi airport, the Execution Directorate (ED) arrested Tuesday Lalit Goyalthe vice-president and general manager of the real estate group IREOin connection with a money laundering investigation related to the alleged embezzlement of homebuyer funds in the amount of Rs.2,600 crore. Goyal is now in ED’s custody for seven days. His name also appeared in Leaked Pandora Papers for placing more than $77 million in offshore funds.
The ED told the court that the businessman was “uncooperative and did not disclose any relevant information” during the interrogation and was therefore taken into custody under the provisions of the Money Laundering Prevention Act (PMLA). Lalit Goyal was arrested by immigration authorities last Thursday (November 11) at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) “as he attempted to leave the country”. The measure was taken by immigration officials on the basis of a Watch Circular ED pronounced against him.
Lalit Goyal, whose sister is married to the BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal, was interrogated at the airport and detained by the agency following which he was interrogated in Chandigarh. The real estate company IREO was launched in 2004 and has won numerous contracts in housing and infrastructure. The company has more than 30 projects across India. The ED said its criminal investigation against Goyal is based on FIRs filed by Panchkula Font in Haryana and also by the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) Delhi Police against companies like IREO Private Limited and IREO Fiveriver Private Limitedand Lalit Goyal and others.
The ED said the group had adopted a modus operandi that included “channeling funds from various entities based in tax havens like the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Mauritius, etc., embezzlement through share buybacks, recording of fictitious expenses in the books of accounts, abandonment of the current project, loans and advances to sister companies and round trip of funds through shell companies” . “The total funds involved are more than Rs.2,600 crorepart of which is proceeds of crime,” he alleged.
Goyal, he said, is “settler and designated beneficiary of a Overseas Trust based in Guernsey, which owns and controls entities holding assets outside India”. ED said recent global leaks of the “Pandora Papers” regarding offshore assets held by individuals and companies “also named four entities (which are beneficially owned by Lalit Goyal) having a registered address in BVI and holding assets worth more than USD 77.73 million (approximately 575,000,000 rupees)”.
The businessman and his legal team had previously denied any illegality on their part and stated that no funds had been diverted abroad in violation of the laws.
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