November 25, 2020

AgriGold in ‘Paradise’ expose: ED to track offshore tax haven deals

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By U Sudhakar Reddy From Times of India

HYDERABAD: With tainted AgriGold directors being named in the ‘Paradise’ papers, the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID) has decided to seek the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) help to probe the transactions of offshore companies floated by AgriGold scam accused in the tax haven of .

Interestingly, as the arrested AgriGold directors did not reveal details of their offshore holdings when questioned by and Telangana CIDs since the probe was launched in 2014, the ‘Paradise’ expose by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), revealing the names of companies floated by AgriGold directors, came as a big surprise to investigators. According to ‘Paradise’ papers, AgriGold promoters incorporated Forefront Holdings Private Limited and Mainstream Holdings Private Ltd in October 2009 in the Cayman Islands. “The Cayman Islands links of the AgriGold directors had not come to our notice so far.

The accused didn’t reveal anything during interrogations. Now, we will seek ED’s help to probe their links to Cayman Islands and find out whether any transactions were carried out with the companies there,” AP CID additional director general of police, Ch Dwaraka Tirumala Rao, told . AP CID is in the final stages of filing the chargesheet against the accused with regard to 12 FIRs booked against AgriGold chairman Avva Venkata Rama Rao and directors Avva Uday Bhaskar Rao and Avva Subrahmanyeswara Sharma. “Of the 19 accused, we have arrested 16.

The AgriGold accused bought several properties in AP, Telangana and Karnataka. We have attached properties worth Rs 2,700 crore belonging to the company in AP. In Telangana too, we have attached properties, but their worth is yet to be calculated. We have to auction their properties, but a company came forward to take over its liabilities. We will have a clear picture by month-end,” he said. Around 22 lakh depositors were duped by the AgriGold group in five states mostly in AP, Karnataka, Telangana, and Odisha. Incidentally, after Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka has the highest number of AgriGold depositors, followed by Telangana. “In all, the company has duped depositors of `6,380 crore.

While in AP, it cheated 13.5 lakh depositors to the tune of `3,900 crore, in Karnataka it has 7 lakh depositors,” said Tirumala Rao. Telangana CID Additional Director General of Police Govind Singh told STOI: “We have registered three cases. There are 4 lakh depositors that were fleeced of a total Rs 500 crore. Most of the attachments were done by AP CID, with whom we have an understanding that the attachment money will be equally distributed among victims across states.”

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