The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached 14 properties worth ₹148 crore belonging to Gupta Builders and Promoters (GBP) Group as part of its money laundering investigation against the realty firm, its absconding directors and their associates.
The attached properties include commercial spaces, including GBP Centrum in Zirakpur, personal houses and agriculture land belonging to the group, its directors Satish Gupta and Pardeep Gupta, and their associates Anupam Gupta and Navraj Mittal.
Of the 14 properties, nine are in Mohali and Chandigarh, while the rest are in Ludhiana and Patiala districts. These have been attached under Sub-section 1 of Section 5 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.
ED had initiated the money laundering investigation on the basis of FIRs registered in Chandigarh and Punjab against the group and its directors – Satish Gupta, Raman Gupta and Pardeep Gupta.
Exactly a year ago, the trio had fled the country in September 2021, leaving all their offices in and around Mohali locked, and dashing the hopes of around 2,500 allottees who have invested over ₹1,500 crore in the group’s 18 commercial and residential projects in Mohali.
Said to have fled to Dubai after securing a business visa, the directors remain out of police reach, despite the flurry of complaints by investors, who are located across Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and even abroad.
In August this year, ED had also filed a criminal case in a Chandigarh court after the group’s directors failed to appear before it despite several notices.
This case was filed under Section 174 (non-attendance in obedience to an order from a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code and PMLA.
On June 3, ED had conducted searches at 19 locations in Chandigarh, Ambala, Panchkula, Mohali and Delhi as part of its money laundering probe. Besides GBP Group’s office and residences of its directors Satish Gupta and Pardeep Gupta, the central agency had also raided the firm’s associates.
The raids had uncovered unaccounted cash to the tune of ₹85 lakh, an Audi Q7 car and incriminating documents pertaining to the directors’ movable and immovable properties.
Insolvency resolution process also underway
In August, the Chandigarh bench of the National Company Law Tribunal had initiated the corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP) against GBP Group.
A recovery mechanism, CIRP is initiated to determine whether the defaulting firm is capable of debt repayment through evaluation of its assets and liabilities. If the firm is not capable of repaying the debt, it is restructured or liquidated to settle the debts owed to creditors. The mandatory period for completion of CIRP under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, is 330 days, including time of appeals, stay, etc.
Ashu Kumar, president of Home Buyers’ and Investors’ Welfare Association of GBP, said, “The probe is much needed, but ED must de-attach GBP Centrum in Zirakpur, as its attachment will delay the entire corporate insolvency resolution process initiated by the National Company Law Tribunal.”
Projects hanging fire
Among the GBP Group’s 18 ongoing projects in Mohali, Camelia, offering both residential and commercial units, in Kharar, and GBP Centrum (commercial) in Zirakpur has been under construction since 2016.
At two other projects – Athens (residential and commercial) and Aeroze (residential) – both on Airport Road, construction has remained stalled for years, and at a residential colony in New Chandigarh, where plots have been sold, construction has not even begun.
Major properties attached
– GBP Centrum, a partly developed commercial-cum-residential project worth ₹127 crore at Singhpura village in Zirakpur
– 101 kanal agricultural land at Naugyari village, Dera Bassi, worth ₹6.61 crore. It is registered under the name of Aerospace Buildcon
– 2-kanal house in Sector 8-A, Chandigarh, worth ₹6.67 crore. Registered in the name of group’s associates Navraj Mittal and Ashu Mittal
– 2-acre agricultural land in Hallomajra village, Chandigarh. Registered in the name of M/S Kumar Builders, worth ₹3.17 crore
– 17-kanal agricultural land worth ₹1.19 crore at Libda village in Khanna, Ludhiana. Registered in the name of Navraj Mittal
– 4.5-acre agricultural land worth ₹40 lakh at Kahangarh village, Patran, Patiala. Another property in the name of Navraj Mittal.