Panaji, May 28: Directorate of Enforcement has initiated show-cause notices against the foreigners who have brought properties allegedly in the state violating of Foreign Exchange Management Act.
The notices issued directly to the parties and also through the state government has asked why their properties involved in the contravension of the FEMA should not be confiscated to the central government account in terms of Section 13 (2) of FEMA 1999.
All the respondents (foreigners) have to appear in person or through legal practitioner at DoEs Mumbai office at different dates as mentioned in the notice.
Goa, the erstwhile Portuguese colony, woke up to the grim reality of losing its large chunk of lands to the foreigners allegedly in violation of FEMA. The state government in their report presented on the floor of the house sighted 392 such cases and formed a high level Anupam Kishore committee to probe into the violations.
The committee, prima facie, had found violations in 298 cases, which were referred to Directorate of Enforcement and Reserve Bank of India.
UK and Russians topped the list of foreigners who had invested in properties in Goa, mostly by forming companies.
Mr. Anil Kumar Singh,DoE’s assistant director, said,”Those cases where investment is above Rs 1 crore will be heard by special director while below Rs 1 crore will be referred to deputy director”.
He said that after the show-cause notice, the parties will be given an opportunity to present the case with their documentations.
Mr. Singh further said that most of the cases, the properties are below Rs 1 crore as they were purchased during 2000-2001 when real estate was not booming.
The DoE which is investigating the case through the show-cause notices issued has asked the parties to reply within 30 days as to why adjudication proceedings as contemplated under FEMA.
While the authorities, for past two years have been probing this huge chunk of cases, the DoE had to route some of the show-cause notices through Goa government as some addresses were not traceable.
Additional collector Swapnil Naik said, “We served the notices taking help of panchayat-level officers like talathis” .
The legal experts, however, feel that the property these property purchases are not in violation of FEMA.
Mr. Vikram Varma, a lawyer, who will be defending almost six cases of Britons, Russians and Italians before DoE, said, “Section 7 of FEMA mentions that nationals from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afganisthan, China, Iran, Nepal or Bhutan cannot buy properties in India without prior permission of RBI”.
He said that union government has cleared 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in tourism sector and Goa investments have come in that sector.
Mr. Varma said that as far as Goan properties are concerned, they are not agricultural properties. He further added, “They are either old Portuguese houses, apartments or small bunglows, which already have no objection certificate from panchayats”.
The legal expert also said that the companies which are registered in Goa are Indian entities and cannot be termed as foreign.