Pyramid Scheme Victims Call For $100m Property Freeze


Victims of a large scale pyramid fraud scheme in India are preparing to lodge a class action in the Australian Federal Court, alongside a call to freeze $100m of prime Gold Coast real estate, according to ABC online. 
Investors with the Pearls Group are asking the court to freeze $100 million worth of prime Gold Coast real estate they claim was bought with misappropriated funds.

"They're trophy properties that were bought by the operators of the scheme in India — the Sheraton Mirage Gold Coast and a $5 million luxury Gold Coast mansion at Sanctuary Cove," Alex Moriarty from Shine Lawyers said, according to ABC.

Pearls offered high rates of return to some of India's poorest for nearly 20 years, with reports of almost 50 million people signing up.

But the schemes were highly controversial, with a history of run-ins with regulators going back as far as the late 1990s.

Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast

The Australian Government body Austrade introduced Pearls to Gold Coast businessmen in 2009 as an approved investor.

The following year, a Pearls company, Pearls Infrastructure, pumped $100 million into an Australian company that went on to purchase the Sheraton Mirage for $62 million.

A long legal battle in India came to an end late last year, when the country's Supreme Court found a Pearls investment scheme made highly misleading claims.

Four Indian Pearls directors were subsequently arrested for fraud.

A committee appointed by the Indian supreme court has already begun the process of seizing assets there, in an attempt to claw back some of the $10 billion owed to investors.

Former Australian fast bowler, Brett Lee, had been the face of one of Pearls' advertising campaigns — although there is no suggestion that he knew of the claims of fraudulent dealing, according to ABC Online.

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