The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized cars worth Rs 60 crore after search operations at seven locations in Delhi and Gurugram. ED is currently investigating charges of misappropriating, siphoning off and diverting funds against real-estate majors M3M Group and IREO Group.
ED seized 17 high-end luxury cars including Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Land Rover, Bentley, Mercedes-Maybach and more. The cars are of approxiately valued at Rs 60 crore. Apart from the cars, bullion, jewellery of Rs 5.75 crore and cash of Rs 15 lakh was seized from the real-estate-groups.
The searches were conducted on June 1 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED has been investing the IREO group for a long time now on the basis of multiple FIRs registered against the IREO Group.
ED said in a statement,
“The investigations done by ED showed that huge amounts of money running into hundreds of crores were siphoned off through M3M group also. The transactions were shown in books of IREO as payments towards development rights. The land was owned by M3M group and the market value of the land was around Rs 4 crore. M3M Group initially sold the development rights of the said land to five shell companies for a payment of Rs 10 crore. It was claimed that the five companies are unrelated companies. Investigations revealed that the five shell companies were operated by M3M Group,”
Luxury cars “Smurfing”
Luxury cars are a part of money laundering and is commonly known as “smurfing”. It involves splitting large amounts of funds into smaller fractions which is less noticable and avoids suspicion. Luxury car purchases can be utilised as a part of smurfing schemes. The buyer buys expensive cars with small increments of monet and the method becomes extremely difficult to trace back to the original source of funds. This is why most money laundering crimminals often spend on high-end cars and build a massive garrage. We have seen expensive cars getting seized from money launderers on multiple occassions in the past.
Confiscated vehicles are stored in police impound lots until the court authorizes their release to recover funds. In this particular case, since it is not a fraud matter, these vehicles will probably remain under police custody until the case is resolved or they deteriorate over time due to the lack of funds to be recovered.
The seized cars often lie unclaimed and unsold in the police custody and gather dust over the years. In some of the cases, seized cars become useless after flooding and in many cases, important parts are stolen from them.