The arrest, which came after two years of CBI probe ordered by the Supreme Court, was preceded by long hours of questioning of Bhangoo and three other top executives of Pearls Group of companies, CBI sources said.

They said Bhangoo, CMD of Pearls Golden Forest Ltd (PGF) and ex-Chairman of Pearls Australasia Pty Limited, along with Sukhdev Singh, MD and Promoter-Director of Pearls Agrotech Corporation Ltd (PACL), Gurmeet Singh, Executive Director (Finance) and Subrata Bhattacharya, ED in the PGF/PACL were confronted with documents purportedly contrary to their claims of clean business.

These people started changing their statements which were filled with inconsistencies, officials claimed, adding that such non-cooperation prompted the agency to arrest them so that custodial questioning can be done.

During the probe in the last two years, CBI has found 1300 bank accounts of the suspect company, their directors, and associated firms, they said, adding the agency has frozen assets (mostly Fixed Deposit receipts) to the tune of Rs 280 crore and addition Rs 108 crore has been deposited with Delhi High Court.

They said the agency has managed to seize 20,000 property documents believed to be of Rs 5,000 crore of purchase value.

It is estimated by CBI that these properties could be about 1.85 lakh crore by present market rates.

CBI Press Information Officer R K Gaur said Bhangoo along with Sukhdev Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Subrata Bhattacharya were arrested under charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating.

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