In the first instance of an Indian agency getting access to Swiss bank accounts in its black money probe, the Enforcement Directorate has frozen about Rs 6 crore of stashed funds of a Mumbai-based businessman in an alleged money laundering case.
The agency, which approached Swiss authorities some time back in connection with the probe, received a shot in the arm when the banking and enforcement authorities there agreed that the money stashed in the accounts was prima facie "proceeds of crime" and it was important for India to get access and control of these accounts.
The case pertains to an alleged contravention of money laundering laws by Sayed Mohammed Masood, Chairman of 'City Limousine', whom the agency is probing for floating illegal ponzi (fraud investment plans) schemes by promising extraordinary returns which were not honoured.
"Two Swiss accounts in the name of Masood and his business firms, holding USD 1.25 million, have been attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act," investigators of the case said.
The ED attachment ensures that these properties cannot be used by the accused and he cannot take any benefits from these assets, and such an order can be challenged by the accused at the adjudicating authority of the PMLA.
The Mumbai unit of the agency, has said in its request to Swiss authorities, that it is probing "the City group and its Chairman Sayed Mohamed Masood for money laundering".
"By floating ponzi schemes offering astronomically high returns, Ms City Limousines (India) Limited, Ms City Realcom Limited, its Chairman and other directors of the companies have cheated thousands of investors across the country of funds to the tune of hundreds of crores," it said.
The Enforcement Directorate enforces the PMLA in the country and is the lead agency to probe black money cases, apart from the Income Tax department.