Ex-employee of VICCO held for bid to extort Rs 15 cr from owner

Official of the Crime Branch (Unit-4) have arrested a former employee of Vicco Laboratories for trying to extort Rs 15 crore from the owner of the ayurvedic products manufacturing group.

Money troubles: The cops arrested Santosh Balaram Bhane from Manpada in Dombivli for sending threatening SMSes and a letter to Vicco owner (inset) Sanjeev Gajanan Pendharkar. Pic/Sunil Tiwari

Santosh Balaram Bhane (30), a resident of Dombivli, had made the demand through courier and SMS, said the police.

On June 18, Vicco owner Sanjeev Gajanan Pendharkar received a threatening letter in which the Roman script was used to write Hindi.

It was sent through Forum Courier in Dadar.

The letter read: “My Dear Sanjeev G Pendharkar, Agale Dhamake ki tayari puri ho cuki hai bus tere Jawab ka Intjar Hail Dhamaka Karu ya Na kau is bar hum logo se koi bhi chuk nahi hogi. Wayar lagane mai ya remote ka Battan Dabane mai Tu soch is bar tere ghar ke person ki mouth pakki hai. Koun marega terko malum parega kiss ki mout kab ayati Mai yeh Hum Tay karenge 15 Crore Rupea tu de Raha hai kya nahi Yar kisi ke mout ke badh dga. Bus tera Jawab Ha ya Na.”

On July 4, Pendharkar received a threatening text message from the mobile phone number 9076242102.

Pendharkar registered a complaint at the Bhoiwada police station against the unknown person.

The Crime Branch began a parallel investigation, which was conducted by Senior Inspector Shrish Sawant, Assistant Police Inspector Mahesh Tawade, Police Sub-Inspector Sanjay Nikam and Police Sub-Inspector Suryakant Chavhan.

On Thursday, a police team succeeded in arresting Bhane from Manpada in Dombivli. Bhane confessed to threatening Pendharkar.

Police sources said Bhane’s father had been an employee of Vicco Laboratories and had died in an accident at the Dombivli unit of the group, and to compensate the family the company gave Bhane his father’s post in the production department.

In 2003-2004, Bhane resigned and tried to open his own company as a competitor to Vicco, for which he managed to raisemoney by selling his property.

When the money got spent in getting his four sisters married, Bhane began thinking of other ways to raise money.

“Bhane came up with the extortion idea as a short cut to wealth,” Popat Avhad, the investigation officer in the case from the Bhoiwada police station, said. “The court has remanded him in police custody till July 16.”  

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