ED seizes property worth Rs 41.64 crores belonging to Zavareh Poonawalla and family in Pune
The ED found that funds remitted by Zavareh Poonawalla and his family members were utilised by Stallast Limited to "purchase" four apartments in London
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized three immovable properties estimated to be worth Rs 41.64 crores in Mumbai belonging to Zavareh Soli Poonawalla and his family members in connection with the foreign exchange violations probe related to Panama papers. Zavareh is the brother of vaccine tycoon and Serum Institute of India (SII) chairman and managing director Cyrus Poonawalla. Poonawalla's name figured in the Panama Papers leak case.
The ED in a statement stated that it has seized three immovable properties located at Ceejay house, Worli, Mumbai to the extent of Rs 41.64 Crore under the provisions of FEMA 1999 in its investigation against Zavareh Soli Poonawalla and his family members.
ED further said that it is investigating a case of misuse of the Liberalized Remittance Scheme (LRS) under the provisions of the FEMA 1999 against Zavareh Soli Poonawalla and his family. His name was found in the Panama Papers revelations regarding off-shore entities.
ED investigation revealed Zavareh Soli Poonawalla and his family members had remitted foreign exchange abroad by misutilization the provisions of LRS scheme. They used the maximum permissible limit and from the year 2011-12, they remitted money abroad via mis-declarations under the pretext of 'family maintenance and self-maintenance' etc, however none of their family members was residing abroad or holding NRI status.
The entire funds remitted by Zavareh Soli Poonawalla and his family members under LRS were invested into M/s Stallast Limited based in BVI. The funds remitted by Zavareh Soli Poonawalla and his family members were utilized by M/s Stallast Limited to purchase 4 properties in the UK. These properties include 4 apartments at Paddington, London. Multiple FEMA contraventions were seen in these transactions. Apart from mis-declarations in the remittances, Zavareh Soli Poonawalla and his family members wrongly claimed these investments as foreign portfolio investments, but in reality, the foreign entity was completely controlled by them and thus, they did ODI in a foreign WoS without due permission of the RBI. The foreign assets were not declared to RBI. They continued to hold above foreign assets till date and are in continuous enjoyment of the same.
The properties abroad were acquired through the funds remitted under LRS to avoid reporting requirements to RBI and thus, Zavareh Poonawalla has mis-utilized the Liberalized Remittance Scheme. Therefore, the equivalent value of properties held by them in India have been seized under the provisions of Section 37A of FEMA. ED has seized Office space at Ceejay House, Worli, Mumbai, by passing an order under FEMA 1999 on 8.5.2023, the ED stated.
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