Pune Ponzi Scheme: ED Issues Provisional Attachment Order, Targets Assets Worth Rs 24.41 Crore of VIPS Group Owner

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Mubarak Ansari

Pune, 6th April 2024: The Directorate of Enforcement (ED), Mumbai Zonal Office, has taken decisive action against financial malpractice, issuing a Provisional Attachment Order under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

This order targets movable assets valued at Rs. 24.41 Crore, allegedly utilized by Vinod Khute, proprietor of the VIPS Group of Companies and M/s Global Affiliate Business company, both based in Pune, for the purpose of money laundering activities.

The attached assets include balances in 58 bank accounts totaling Rs. 21.27 Crore and deposits amounting to Rs. 3.14 Crore. The ED’s investigation stems from an FIR filed by the Bharti Vidyapeeth Police Station, Pune, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The FIR implicates Vinod Tukaram Khute, along with others, for allegedly defrauding individuals and orchestrating a criminal conspiracy involving Ponzi schemes and forex trading, resulting in the accumulation of over Rs. 100 Crore in bank accounts associated with multiple bogus entities.

According to ED findings, Vinod Khute, currently believed to be residing in Dubai, orchestrated a network of illicit financial activities, including illegal trading, crypto exchanges, and forex trading through firms based in Dubai, notably M/s Kana Capital Limited. Khute established several companies, including M/s VIPSWALLET Pvt. Ltd., M/s VIPSTRADE Finance Private Limited (M/s VTFPL), M/s Kana Capitals Limited, M/s Global Affiliate Business (GAB), VIPS Securities, and VIPS Properties, among others, to facilitate these unlawful practices.

Investigations revealed that investor funds were funneled through shell companies and dummy accounts to obfuscate the illicit nature of transactions. Subsequently, funds were transferred out of India to Dubai via hawala operators, with cryptocurrency such as USDT used to evade regulatory oversight and facilitate money laundering. The ill-gotten gains, estimated at over Rs. 100 Crore, were allegedly utilized by Vinod Khute for personal enrichment, funding his companies’ operations, and acquiring properties both in Dubai and India.

Previously, the ED had issued a Provisional Attachment Order under the PMLA, 2002, attaching overseas assets valued at Rs. 37.50 Crore belonging to Vinod Khute. With the latest action, the total attachment in this case now stands at a substantial Rs. 61.91 Crore.