CBI calls in filmmakers in Rs 80 cr bank fraud case
Kabeer Kaushik and Rakesh Omprakash Mehra had been approached by two conmen who have been arrested for defrauding the Bank of India by withdrawing against forged letters of credit
Abhijit Sathe (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 8, 2012)
Director-producer Kabeer Kaushik, who produced the recent film Maximum, and director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, were summoned by CBI Economic Offences Wing in connection with investments in their projects by a firm run by a gang that was arrested for submitting forged letters of credit to a bank and withdrawing cash against it.
Sachin Shah and his accomplice Rajesh Chordia were arrested by CBI EOW last week for allegedly cheating the Bank of India of Rs 80 crore by discounting forged letters of credit issued by a gang in Bhopal. Investigations revealed that Shah and Chordia had floated a firm, Divine Thought Productions Private Limited, which invested Rs 3.5 crore in Kabeer Kaushik’s Maximum, and Rs 1 crore in Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s forthcoming project. The EOW summoned the two to record their statements and to inform them that the money invested in their projects was ill-gotten and would be recovered from them.
CBI Superintendent of Police (EOW) Dr Atul Fulzele confirmed that the two directors visited EOW office on Friday, but refused to comment further.
According to CBI, Shah and Chordia had issued a cheque of Rs 2.15 crore to Kaushik and gave Rs 1.35 crore to him in cash. Similarly, they issued two cheques of Rs 1 crore each to Mehra, of which he returned one cheque. “Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra said the cheque he accepted was not honoured by the bank. He said he was not aware of Shah’s and Chordia’s background and the source of their funds. He promised to cooperate with the investigating agency,” sources said.
Kaushik, on the other hand, told CBI EOW that his film Maximum had tanked and, hence, he had lost significant money. Kaushik agreed that Shah and Chordia had paid him money, but expressed inability to return the money as he was running a loss.
“We told him that the money routed to him was ill-gotten and needed to be confiscated. CBI has asked Kaushik to return the money failing which the agency will be compelled to proceed with attachment of his properties,” sources said.
HOW THE BANK WAS CONNED
According to the CBI Shah, a college drop out, and Chordia, in connivance with two other suspects Sajjan Kumar and Govind Salgaonkar. Kumar and Salgaonkar stay in Dubai and Malaysia respectively and the CBI EOW has issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against them. A letter of credit is issued by a bank and can be submitted to another bank which will verify its authenticity and give the cash to the person submitting it.
CBI has alleged that Shah and Chordia procured fake LCs worth crores of rupees from a Bhopal gang. They discounted 48 such LCs worth Rs 80 crore at Bank of India, Mumbai, and collected the money.
When BOI received their LCs it called up the banks that had issued these LCs, but the CBI says, the Bhopal gang diverted the calls to their cellphones.
Mehra admitted that the suspects had approached him wishing to invest in his project. “But after the first meeting itself we thought they are the not the ones we should be associated with. We settled all accounts with them and have no association any more,” Mehra had said two days ago. Kaushik too confirmed that the suspects had invested Rs 2.25 crores in his project. “The investment was made through a firm. CBI contacted us on this issue and we have provided the agency the details,” he said. Kaushik, however, denied receiving any money in cash from the suspects.
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