Fourteen years after the apex court had directed attachment of all properties of the Golden Forest India Ltd (GFIL) and appointed a committee headed by a former Punjab and Haryana high court judge R N Agrawal to protect the interest of investors, the court has now given the green signal for reimbursement of Rs 700 crore to investors and asked the committee to complete the task within three months. The amount was raised by the committee by selling various assets of the company.
Chandigarh-based GFIL commenced its business and floated a collective investment scheme in 1987 for development of land and social forestry. Under the scheme, the investors deposited money and the company purchased land on their behalf.
The scheme attracted large number of investors, particularly from middle class families, as the minimum investment was Rs 1,000 and the company promised returns as high as 20%.
In a span of ten years, it had raised over Rs 1,000 crore from investors and purchased large parcel of land in different parts of the country.
Around 14 lakh people had invested and were promised a hefty amount at the time of maturity. The company, however, went bust, leaving the investors high and dry who had to fight a long legal battle for reimbursement. The SC intervened in 2004 and had since then been monitoring the sale of the company’s assets to raise money.
The SC-appointed committee told a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and A Abdul Nazeer that it had so far raised Rs 700 crore and assets worth of Rs 100 cr remained attached with the Income Tax department.