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Home / News / World /  Investors plan class action to freeze Pearls Group assets in Australia

Melbourne: Australian lawyers plan to lodge class action on behalf of tens of thousands of defrauded Indian investors with the Pearls Group demanding to freeze 100 million dollars worth of the prime Gold Coast real estate.

The investors with the Pearls Group were asking the court to freeze 100 million dollars worth of the real estate which they claim was bought with misappropriated funds, ABC news reported a day ahead of the case being lodged in a Australian federal court.

“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," said Alex Moriarty from Shine Lawyers, who represents the defrauded Indian investors.

The class action case was set up by former Australian Securities and investment Commission (ASIC) investigator Niall Coburn, who was made aware of the scam, the report said.

“It was clear to me that no one was going to do anything in this kind of investigation—it was all too hard," Coburn, who had visited India to offer to help investors chase Pearls assets in Australia, said. It is reported that tens of thousands of investors have signed up through a local support group.

“At the moment we are representing more than 45,000 Indian investors who collectively invested over 10 million dollars," Moriarty said, adding “But a class action can grow as more people join it."

The Australian government body Austrade introduced Pearls to a Gold Coast businessmen in 2009 as an approved investor. According to report, a Pearls company, Pearls Infrastructure, infused 100 million dollars into an Australian company that went on to purchase the Sheraton Mirage for 62 million dollars.

However, four Indian Pearls director were arrested after the Supreme Court found the Pearls investment scheme was a sham and appointed a committee to seize its assets, the report said. The owner of the Sheraton Mirage is the Australian company MiiGroup which reportedly said that its involvement with Pearls was approved by both the Reserve Bank of India and Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.

The company argued the Australian action was unnecessary, as they had already agreed to fully co-operate with authorities in India. “It is a rogue, opportunist action," MiiGroup said in a statement.

Lawyers acting for Indian investors argued any sale would make recovering the money difficult, so they had to act fast. “It’s not a rogue opportunist action," Moriarty said adding “We’re acting directly for the people who have been defrauded, many of these people have lost their life savings."

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