Employees of Pearls Group of Companies, involved in one of the biggest Ponzi scams, are disposing of properties in their names despite the Supreme Court putting a ban on the sale by owners. The apex court had ordered the auction of assets to pay back the investors.
Nirmal Singh Bhangu, owner of the Pearls Group of Companies, owes more than Rs 46,000 crore to at least 5.85 crore investors across the country. The Supreme Court had on April 29, 2015, ordered the auction of properties.
While the investors are yet to be paid, Bhangu’s employees are quietly disposing of pieces of land in their name to private parties. At least four such sale deeds have taken place in the last two weeks of March in which two employees of the Pearls group, Pawan Gautam and Rajinder Singh, sold off two plots each at Chachrauli village in Dera Bassi. Chachrauli village is located near Pearls group’s Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital on the Patiala-Chandigarh road. Last year, the duo had sold off properties held jointly with Bhangu’s wife Prem Kaur.
According to sale deed documents in possession with The Indian Express, Pawan Gautam sold two pieces, measuring 4 bighas and 7 biswa, and 1 bigha and 8 biswa, to one Sahib Simran Singh in March. Sahib said the sale deed was executed by the sub-registrar, but the patwari of the area was not mutating the land in his name, saying it belonged to an employee of the Pearls Group. Ravinder Kumar, the patwari, said the sellers were employees of Pearls Group and he could say anything more without consulting his seniors.
Two more pieces of land, in the name of Rajinder Singh, another employee, were also sold to Sahib Simran Singh in March.
Hargobind Singh, Sub-Registrar, Dera Bassi, said the issue came to his knowledge and he sought clarity from his seniors, “There is no means for me to check whether the duo were employees of the Pearls group. I was transferred here in January. When the sale deeds were presented to me, I checked if there was any objection in the revenue records. The pieces of land had no objection. There were no remarks on these after it came to my knowledge. I went to my SDM. We are flommoxed as to how to identify the pieces of land in the name of Bhangu’s employees.”
The Deputy Commissioner of Mohali, a district having maximum properties of the Pearls Group, had written to sub-registrars in July last year, directing them not to execute the sale deeds of the Pearls Group of Companies, its arms, employees and any unknown persons.
The orders came after the SC had constituted Justice (Retd) RM Lodha Commission to identify and sell the properties to pay investors. The CBI had identified over 20,000 properties owned by Bhangu, his wife, companies and employees. These properties were said to be a part of the laundering of money collected from the investors.