Plea in HC for probe into franchisee scam

New Delhi: A plea was moved in the Delhi High Court on Friday seeking a probe by various investigative agencies, like CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED), into a “franchisee scam” under which several persons were cheated to the tune of around Rs 30 crores allegedly by Westland Trade Pvt Ltd and its directors.

The petition was moved in the Delhi High Court after the Supreme Court on February 8 said it had made a “mistake” by agreeing to examine the matter and asked the petitioners to move the high court instead.

In the plea, filed through advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, the victims of the alleged franchisee racket have claimed that the company floated bogus companies such as Hyper Supermarket and Hyper Mart to invite investors, like the petitioners, who were then duped of their money.

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The petition seeks an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), ED and SFIO (Serious Fraud Investigation Office) or by a Special Investigation Team into various offences, including money laundering and black money hoarding, allegedly committed by the directors and beneficiaries of the company.

It claimed that the company collected franchise fees of Rs three lakh from people, assuring certain payout and by this method attracted around 500 investors.

Initially the company was slow in making payments and then in May last year, it sent out an email saying it was enforcing Force Majure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract) clause listed in the agreement and no further payments would be made.

When the petitioners tried to inquire further about the company it found that emails were bouncing back, the registered office was closed and the head office in Noida had two people who had no idea about their employers, the plea said.

“The injury is large because under a well planned conspiracy, directors, sleeping partners and employees deceived the petitioners by fraudulently and dishonestly inducing them to deliver their hard earned money,” the plea alleged.

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