PMLA court refuses permission to Sayed Masood’s ex-wife to travel to US
Mumbai: A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court has refused to allow Chand Masood, former wife of Sayed Mohammed Masood of the City Group of Companies, to travel to the US after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claimed that she intended to dispose of money held in Singapore and Switzerland banks
Mumbai: A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court has refused to allow Chand Masood, former wife of Sayed Mohammed Masood of the City Group of Companies, to travel to the US after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claimed that she intended to dispose of money held in Singapore and Switzerland banks.
The ED said that it was in the process to confiscate the money held by Masood in various accounts in banks at Singapore and Switzerland and claimed that the purpose of Chand’s visit to the US was nothing but an attempt to deal with the money.
On the other hand, Chand claimed that she is a US citizen and her passport was expiring in December 2023. Hence, she needed to visit the US between March 1 and May 25 for renewal of her passport.
She further said that she had divorced Masood in 2003 and shifted to the US with her children. She was granted citizenship of the US in 2013 and ever since held a US passport. She had not visited India till 2009 and came to know about the case only in 2019.
Opposing the plea, ED’s lawyer, Arvind Aghav contended that, even when she and Sayed had divorced, Sayed had given her power of attorney in 2005.
It was pointed out to the court that when the special court had granted her interim bail, she had given wrong mobile number and wrong e-mail ID.
The ED also pointed out that, “in 2016 she had sold one property in the USA for $11 lakh. She had stated that she had been residing in the said property. But when the investigating officer verified this fact, someone else, a French family was found residing in the said property.”
“All this prima facie reflects the conduct of the applicant,” the ED said, adding that in her statement to the investigating officer she had admitted having attempted to transfer $50,000 on the instructions of Sayed Masood.
Special judge MG Deshpande accepted ED contentions and rejected Chand’s plea.
“There is substance in the contention of the ED that when the court recently directed confiscation of various amounts i.e. POC deposited in banks in Singapore and Switzerland, the applicant has put forth the reason for renewal of the passport, but actually she wants to deal with the said amount which will ultimately frustrate the object of PMLA and trial which is likely to begin soon,” the court said.
The multi-crore scam came to light in 2009 when the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police registered multiple cases against the City Group of Companies like City Limousines India Ltd, City Realcom and City Hospitalities for allegedly duping thousands by promising them unrealistic returns on their investments in various schemes floated by the group companies. The companies shuttered after collecting huge sums from investors.
The police said the forensic audit of the City Limousine India Ltd showed that 79,146 people from Mumbai had invested in various schemes launched by the company and these investors from the city alone had put in around ₹980 crore in the company and the company was liable to pay them around ₹2,885 crore.
A total of 132 cases have been registered across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi against Masood and his City Group of Companies, primarily for cheating investors.