Popular Finance scam: ED attaches assets worth Rs 33.84 cr; total attachment reaches Rs 65 cr | Directorate of Execution Kerala

New Delhi: The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) on Wednesday said it had seized assets worth Rs 33.84 crore from the Kerala-based Popular Finance group and its promoters under the Prevention Act. money laundering (PMLA) for having deceived 3,000 depositors to the tune of approximately Rs 1,000 crore.

In September of this year, the DE had attached assets worth Rs 31.16 crore of the Popular Finance group. The total attachment of properties in the case reached Rs 65 crore.

“The attached assets include 11 real estate consisting of land and buildings in Kerala, gold weighing 11.85 kg pledged by the public, which has been pledged on behalf of developers and staff of the Popular group. Finance, 19 promoter term deposits, cash of Rs 3.79 crore, balances of 208 bank accounts of Popular Finance group entities and its promoters and 291 treasury deposit accounts, ”said an official from the ED.

The ED has opened a money laundering investigation based on the FIRs recorded by the Kerala police.

“Kerala police have registered over 1,300 FIRs in various districts and according to FIRs around 3,000 depositors were deceived to the tune of around Rs 1,000 crore,” an ED official said.

ED’s money laundering investigation found that Popular Finance and allied entities are family businesses and that Thomas Daniel and Rinu Mariam Thomas control the entire business, which has 270 branches in Kerala and other states of India.

Deposits taken from the general public were illegal and without any legal authorization from regulatory bodies like the RBI. Hard-earned money from the general public, raised as deposits by luring them at high interest rates, was illegally used to purchase high-end properties and cars, parked as fixed deposits on behalf of members of the family and was also handed over overseas for unsustainable and fictitious business ventures.

The company had no viable business to support the promise of higher interests for depositors.

They paid interest and amounts due from deposits taken from the general public. Gold pledged by the general public was pledged for loans and the loan proceeds were channeled into the family’s personal accounts.

In August of this year, the ED arrested Thomas Daniel and Rinu Mariam Thomas for playing an active role in the disposal of the proceeds of crime. Thomas Daniel is still in custody.

Further investigation into this matter is underway.