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ED arrests Heera Gold chairman in `3,000 cr Ponzi scam: Officials

ED arrests Heera Gold chairman in `3,000 cr Ponzi scam: Officials

New Delhi: The ED has arrested three people in connection with a Rs 3,000 crore Ponzi scheme run by Hyderabad-based Heera Islamic Business Group, commonly known as Heera Gold.

Group chairman Nowhera Shaikh along with Molly Thomas and Biju Thomas will be under the probe agency's custody for seven days beginning Wednesday.

The company has been accused of running a collective investment scheme, where depositors were asked to invest with the promise of returns as high as 36 percent.

The investigation by the Enforcement Directorate so far has revealed that the company duped more than 1.72 lakh investors across India by collecting over Rs 3,000 crore and promising unrealistic returns through gold trading.

In addition to roping in unsuspecting investors in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Kerala, the company also collected deposits from NRIs in Middle-Eastern countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia, the agency said.

The ED investigations have further revealed that Shaikh had no business operations that could sustain this investment scheme and that she and her associates had funneled depositors' money into their personal accounts. The ED has accused Shaikh's PA, Molly of being in cahoots with her and Biju, MD of Suvan Technologies that had created software for Heera Group of managing all the bank accounts.

The agency said Shaikh had opened 24 entities under the Heera Group and subsequently opened 182 bank accounts for these entities across India. In addition, Shaikh is also said to have opened up to 10 bank accounts in UAE and Saudi Arabia. The ED took up the investigation under PMLA after taking cognizance of FIRs registered by Telangana Police in the case.

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