In the ongoing eight-year investigation into the Rs 60,000 crore Pearl Group ponzi scam, a special CBI tribunal has for the first time granted regular bond to a director of the dodgy group of companies in 8 of these senior officials arrested during the course of the investigation.
While Pearl Group Legal Affairs Director Chander Bhushan Dhillon is out after securing regular bail, 5 other arrested directors – Nirmal Singh Bhangoo (MD), Mohan Lal Sehajpal, Sukhdev Singh, Subrata Bhattacharya and Gurmeet Singh – are in detention.
Of the other two, Prem Seth, who resigned as director after the scam was discovered in 2014, is on 4-week bail on medical grounds and will surrender next week.
Meanwhile, Kanwaljit Toor, a prominent director of the company, had died in custody in January. His family now plans to file a petition against the CBI alleging negligence, sources said.
Dhillon, who joined the group in 1986, was named director in 2011 and was among 11 suspected conspirators arrested by the agency last December.
The court, in its detailed order released on Tuesday, pointed to the investigative agency’s failure to arrest two other defendants on charges similar to Dhillon.
Pearl Group allegedly raised around Rs 60,000 crore from almost Rs 5.5 crore investors across the country by operating different investment schemes illegally, without any legal approval.
Investors received a guarantee on farmland, promised 12.5% interest on the investment, in addition to free accident insurance and a tax-free maturity on their investments.
They were told that the value of their land would also increase. The investigation that began in February 2014 has dragged on ever since, with many duped investors fighting for justice.
While Pearl Group chief executive Nirmal Singh Bhangoo was arrested in 2016, the CBI had arrested 11 others, including senior Pearl executives and businessmen, in 2021. Dhillon, the (legal) director of the group, was among them and accused by the CBI of getting investors to sign. ‘false bills of sale’ for farmland in Madhya Pradesh, in addition to conspiring with other corporate directors to run the Ponzi scheme.
While Attorney General VK Ojha opposed bail, defense attorney Bhanu Sanoriya pointed to the CBI’s failure to arrest a businessman and a patwari accused of committing the false acts of alleged sale, while Dhillon remained in custody for four months. He also told the court that the CBI had failed to show that Dhillon was the beneficiary of any money made from the cheating.