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High drama as GMT founder, 3 others sent to jail for running ponzi scheme

GMT supporters on the street

After the court sent all the four accused to judicial custody, some Grow Manipur Team supporters allegedly tried to storm into complaint’s residence at Singjamei Leisangthem Leikai

TFM Report

A high drama was witnessed at a Lamphel court where four accused in Grow Manipur Team’s alleged Ponzi scheme case, were produced after the completion of a seven-day police remand. Some supporters of Grow Manipur Team and its founder Pukhram Maikel Singh gathered near court during the hearing despite the Covid-induced curfew.

After the court sent all the four accused to judicial custody, they allegedly tried to storm into the complaint’s residence at Singjamei Leisangthem Leikai. According to sources, the GMT supporters vented out their anger at the complainant after they failed to secure bail for Maikel and three other accused. However, their attempt was foiled thanks to timely intervention of the officer-in charge of Singhjamei police station who dispersed the mob, they added.

The four accused — the Grow Manipur Team founder Pukhram Maikel Singh (30), his wife Pukhram Babita (28), his sister  Pukhram Renuka (28) and his relative Khundrakpam Bikash Singh (23) were booked under sections 406, 420, 506,120-B IPC & 4, 5 and 6 of The Prize Chits And Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 added with 403 IPC and Banning of Unregulated Deposits Act 2019.

The case was registered after a woman lodged a complaint with Moirang PS against them for running a ponzi scheme called Grow Manipur Team with head office at Moirang Pukhram Leikai, Bishnupur. She accused them of defrauding her of Rs. 29,00,000 (Rs Twenty nine lakhs).

In her complaint, the complainant stated that she and her husband were approached by Pukhram Maikel Singh and his wife to invest in a scheme called Grow Manipur Team (GMT) run by him along with his family members and associates. They promised a 7 per cent monthly interest on the invested capital and also guaranteed that the invested capital can be withdrawn at any time after giving prior notice of 15 days on reaching an invested period of 3 months.

The complainant has also enclosed 4 (four) nos of copies of money receipts issued by GMT towards the money invested by the complainant and her husband. Also, a copy of a passbook issued by the Grow Manipur Team to them has been enclosed along with the complaint. The complainant has stated in her complaint that it is highly suspicious that the Grow Manipur Team (GMT) is a fraudulent Ponzi scheme to lure people to invest their hard earned money and later defraud and cheat them. Hence the case

During enquiry, it was found out that the arrested Pukhram Maikel, his family, close relatives and other associates were involved in running a scheme called Grow Manipur Team which has its unregistered office at Moirang Pukhram Leikai, Bishnupur.

According to police, the modus operandi of the company prima –facie appears to be that of a “Money Circulation Scheme” as defined in Section 2 (c) of The Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978. As such, the actions of the accused person constitute offences under section 4, 5 and 6 of The Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978.

On the revelation by Pukhram Maikel Singh that Grow Manipur is operating currently from its office at Ghari  Mamang Leikai, a search was conducted and important incriminating articles like computers, cash counting machines and other items were seized, police said. Police also said they also received 11(eleven) complaints from investors of GMT.

During initial examination, the huge seizure of incriminatory articles/documents including bank passbooks, currency counting machines, receipt books, cash and valuables from the arrested persons points out to the running of a huge money collection scheme which is operated by a group of people, police said.

On enquiry, GMT do not have any license from the RBI for deposit taking activity pertaining to a Non-Banking Financial Institution in contravention of sec. 45-1A of the RBI Act which says that any entity cannot engage in any financial activities related to Non-Banking Financial Institution without a valid license from the RBI, they added.

The way the Grow Manipur Team has operated is very informal and unorganized. It does not have any bank account of its firm registered name and the financial transactions are done through the personal accounts of its members.

For that Maikel had opened dozens of bank accounts for his as well as the family and many others in various banks such as SBI, AXIS, ICICI, HDFC, Indusind etc. The bank and demat accounts of 17 people associated with GMT were obtained and concerned banks and SEBI were intimated for freezing these accounts, police said.

Further, Maikel revealed that he doesn’t maintain separate accounts for each of the three schemes nor does he maintain separate books for each scheme. These pointed to gross management, police added.

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