ED officials meet foreign buyers of Goa properties

Panaji, Dec 26 (IANS) The Enforcement Directorate, currently probing illegal purchase of over 200 properties in Goa by foreigners, Friday conducted an open interaction with some of them to speed up the investigation.

A top ED official said the interaction between the buyers and the ED’s western region Special Director Sajjad Naqvi was held in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases related to Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations pending with the central probe agency.
“Around 20 foreign nationals attended the meeting conveyed by the ED. Various issues were discussed about property-related matters purchased by foreign nationals in Goa. Legal positions of FEMA and other procedures were explained,” an ED official said requesting anonymity.
The official also said all the 20 foreign nationals, who attended the meeting, own properties which were frozen by the state government and handed over to the ED for investigation in 2008.
The state government had then asked the ED to probe nearly 480 cases where land in Goa was purchased by foreigners using allegedly fraudulent means before 2008, after official enquiries revealed that several revenue and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) norms were allegedly flouted in these real estate transactions.
The state government also froze sale of land to foreigners in Goa pending the completion of the ED probe, especially a police probe revealed that after a coastal property in Morjim, 30 km from here, purchased by a company partly owned by Russian nationals with alleged mafia links.
Land deals conducted by foreign nationals pre-2008, worth more than Rs.7 crore are being probed by the ED.
The ED official said out of the several hundred cases handed to them for investigation, around 200 were under various stages of investigation, while 22 properties which had been illegally purchased had been confiscated.
Goa, a popular beach tourism destination, was until recently, a hot real estate market for European nationals, who were looking to invest in luxury villas and beach-side residences.