Indian Ponzi Scandal Hits Gold Coast Sheraton

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
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An investigation into a $10 billion pyramid scheme in India is having repercussions for the Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast as well as some of the world’s leading cricketers.

The Gold Coast’s Sheraton Mirage has become embroiled in an overseas Ponzi scandal that has reportedly resulted in the loss of billions of dollars by Indian retail investors.

Nirmal Singh Bhangoo and other senior executives of India’s Pearls Group were arrested by local authorities last month following allegations that they swindled as much as $10 billion from approximately 50 million investors in India via a gargantuan pyramid property scheme.

Bhangoo recently emerged as a leading figure on the Brisbane property scene, using his Australian vehicle Pearls Australasia (currently MiiGroup) to spend as much as $82 million on the purchase and subsequent overhaul of the Sheraton Mirage.

According to Indian media reports the criminal conspiracy investigation launched by the country’s Central Bureau of Investigation into Bhangoo and his associates is one of the largest that it’s ever undertaken, involving 1300 frozen bank accounts and more than 20,000 confiscated documents.

Pearl Group stands accused of swindling millions of Indian investors via a massive pyramid scheme that channelled funds from successive participants in fraudulent land deals back to early bird investors.

MiiGroup has since sought to distance itself from its Indian parent company, with joint managing director Peter Madrers averring that the scandal would have no impact on the company’s businesses in Australia or the Sheraton Mirage.

Madrers did indicate, however, that the Sheraton was no longer for sale – an abrupt shift in stance following efforts by MiiGroup to offload the property to Aquis until Christmas last year, when the deal collapsed due to disagreements over sales conditions.

This is far from the first time that the Sheraton Mirage has been embroiled in scandal, given that the Gold Coast resort was built by fugitive businessman Christopher Skase, whose name became a byword for financial malfeasance in Australia during the nineties.

The scandal has also affected a number of the world’s leading cricketers due to their involvement with the Pearls Group, including Australia’s Brett Lee, who entered an endorsement deal with the company for a year-long period and appeared in its promotional photos.

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