Drug trade money into foreigners' properties?

PTI, PANAJI | 12 March 2010 21:20 IST

During the probe of foreigners properties in Goa for Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations, the Directorate of Enforcement (DE) is also investigating whether money pumped into purchasing of these properties has come from a drug-trade, a senior officer said.

"We are also checking whether money pushed into properties is part of a drug trade. This investigation involves lot of liasoning with the state government, which is being done," DE's assistant director Jyoti Sharma told reporters here.

Informally talking to media in Panaji, Sharma said 50 companies floated by foreigners and 300-odd individual cases of foreign nationals purchasing immovable properties in Goa are being probed for FEMA violations.

The investigation encompasses all the factors including the route of money invested and veracity of the companies floated, she said.

"We have put the probe on a fast track and on priority we have taken cases related to forming of companies to purchase various properties," Sharma said.

The DE has found that these companies were formed under the guise of doing business in tourism and hotel businesses by having a local person as a director for namesake.

Sharma stated that Russians and Britishers top the list of foreigners forming such companies.

"Initial investigations have revealed that there is FEMA violation in the manner in which money is brought in and source of money," she said.

The investigators have found that in many cases, the agricultural lands which are purchased and later they have been converted to non agricultural purpose.

"This is in complete violation of FEMA. The agricultural land cannot be purchased by foreigners," she explained.

The DE, which has been probing these cases since last three years, have finalized probe into many cases. "Half of the investigation of these cases is in final stages where we have found the violations," Sharma said.

The DE will be issuing complaint to adjudicating authority, who will issue show cause notice, she added.

FEMA's section 13 prescribes that penalty may be imposed and land or property can also be confiscated.

As the investigations are reaching logical conclusion, the action is already happening.

In one order dated February 12, 2010, passed by deputy director, penalty of Rs two lakh has been imposed on Swiss national August Thommen and his land admeasuring 1,000 sq mts has been confiscated at Anjuna.

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