MOHALI: The order against Golden Forest India Limited (GFIL) to return Rs 700 crore to 14 lakh investors has given a ray of hope to many people in Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula who had fallen for the non-banking financial company’s promises of huge returns.

Investors said their fathers and grandfathers had invested in the company around 30 years ago, but till date they have not received even a single penny in return of their investments.

Naresh Singla, the son of M L Singla of Lalru, said, “My father invested Rs 10 lakh 30 years ago with GFIL after selling commercial land in Nayagaon. He passed away 10 years ago, cursing himself for investing with this fraudulent company. We have lost the hope of recovery, but the SC order has brought a ray of hope.”

Anil Gupta, another investor living in Panchkula, said, “My grandfather Janak Raj Gupta had invested around Rs 3 lakh with GFIL around 30 years ago. He fought till his last breath to get the money back. We had lost every hope of recovery, but the SC now may help us in getting back the money.”

GFIL was a representative of several plantation or so-called social forestry companies that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. It promised huge returns, sometimes in excess of 20%. With with its head office in Jharmari, Lalru, Ambala-Chandigarh national highway 22, Derabassi, Mohali, the company operated through various sub-offices in Manimajra, Chandigarh and Mohali.

The main promoters and owners Neena Syal and R K Syal had died in 2010 and 2011, respectively. R K Syal died while he was lodged in jail.

GFIL commenced its business of developing agricultural land and creating social forestry farm in March 1987. By 1998, it had raised around Rs1,037 crore.

Many of the cases against the company were initiated by investors in 1997. The same year, India’s capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, asked all so-called collective investment schemes across the country to furnish their details and register themselves with it.

When GFIL refused to do so even after being served a Sebi order to stop raising funds from investors and selling its assets, the regulator approached the Bombay high court and asked for an order restraining the company from continuing its business.

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