Businessman kills self at Italian firm's Mumbai office over Rs 3.75 cr dues

His body was brought to Parmasteelisa’s office in Andheri on Wednesday to demand the pending dues
His body was brought to Parmasteelisa’s office in Andheri on Wednesday to demand the pending dues

A 67-year-old fabrication businessman from Khopoli allegedly committed suicide on April 11 at the Andheri East office of an Italian company over pending dues of Rs 3.75 crore.

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Murugan Achari allegedly consumed poison on the premises of M/s Parmasteelisa India (Private) Limited, at Sahar Plaza, JB Nagar, Andheri East, in a state of despondency, claimed his family.

His son, Sanchu Murugan (40), said Parmasteelisa approached Achari, proprietor of M/s SS Engineering, in 2012 for the supply of steel/fabrication material for vestibules at the international airport, which was being revamped.

Murugan Achari
Murugan Achari

Reneging on promises
Sanchu said purchase order (PO) (a commercial document and first official offer issued by a buyer to a seller, indicating types, quantities, and agreed prices for products or services) was thereafter agreed upon between Achari and Parmasteelisa.

While Parmasteelisa made initial payments promptly, problems arose after the construction manager of the Italian company, Ranjit Singh, moved to the Andheri office from Bengaluru in 2013, alleged Sanchu, who owns an export/import licence company, M/s MEC Traders, with his sister Sonya. Singh allegedly began withholding the payment clearances.

Sanchu also alleged that the Italian company tried to bypass the PO orders, and attempted to strike a deal directly with Achari's contacts in China, from where he sourced his material.

Even after the airport's inauguration in March 2014, Achari's dues were nowhere in sight.

Sanchu recalled that his father had to beg for money for Sonya's wedding and managed to get a few lakhs of rupees released from the company. "But, Singh quit the organisation in 2015, and as there was no senior official at the Mumbai office, our pleas fell on deaf ears," he said.

A month ago, Singh rejoined the company, as its India head. "He again started avoiding us. He refused to even acknowledge that the company owed us Rs 3.75 crore," said the son.

Just 10 days prior to the alleged suicide, Achari and his family visited the company's office at JB Nagar, but were allegedly humiliated by Singh. "Singh started making forged debit notes against us. He also levied false allegations of work that was never undertaken by our company," said Sanchu.

Autopsy performed
Achari's body was sent to Cooper Postmortem Centre by MIDC police for an autopsy after registering an accidental death report under section 174 of Criminal Procedure Code.

A forensic surgeon at the centre said, "We have not found any external or internal injury. Circumstances and the statements recorded by the police indicate that it is a case of suicide. We will not give the cause of death till the viscera reports are received from Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Kalina."

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After the postmortem was conducted, friends and members of Kerala Cultural Society arrived at Sahar Plaza with Achari's body in an ambulance on Wednesday and sought a meeting with the senior officials of Parmasteelisa. The group had to disperse after police intervention.

The police have recovered a bottle, assumed to have contained the poison. It has been sent to FSL for a chemical analysis.

Singh was arrested on Wednesday. He was produced in court yesterday and sent to four days of police custody. "We have registered a case under section 306 (abetment to suicide) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC," said a police officer Attempts to contact the company's Andheri and Bengaluru offices did not yield results.

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