Mumbai: Crime branch probe ordered after cops allow QNet accused to go free

Mar 18, 2017, 08:15 IST | Suraj Ojha

At least two Economic Offences Wing officials under scanner after high-level police-criminal nexus exposed. Mumbai CP orders a high-level inquiry by crime branch on the matter

QNet scam victims display the fraudulent products that were sold to them
QNet scam victims display the fraudulent products that were sold to them

A high-level departmental inquiry has been initiated by the Mumbai crime branch to probe an alleged nexus between an accused in the multi-crore QNet scam and some Economic Offences Wing (EOW) officers. Sources said some senior officers too are under scanner. The shocking development came to light after commissioner of police Datta Padsalgikar, through departmental sources, learnt that some EOW officers were allegedly involved in letting an accused wanted in the scam off.

Victims at a meeting in Andheri last year, showing the products they were duped with in the QNet scamVictims at a meeting in Andheri last year, showing the products they were duped with in the QNet scam
Victims at a meeting in Andheri last year, showing the products they were duped with in the QNet scam

A senior IPS officer confirmed the development to mid-day and said the commissioner has asked the crime branch to conduct a thorough inquiry in the matter. Sources said additional commissioner of police (crime) KMM Prasanna has been given the responsibility to conduct the inquiry.

Among the EOW officers under the scanner are investigating officer Inspector Nikhil Kapse, Assistant Commissioner of Police Arun Jadhav and cops who were involved in detaining the accused. It is also being probed whether any senior officer was involved.

Overnight custody
The inquiry revolves around the controversial detention of one Rahul Maheshwari, an accused in the Rs 1,000-crore QNet scam, in which nearly 5 lakh investors across the country were duped. The Hong Kong-based company has been accused of using the banned binary pyramid business model for its multi-level marketing schemes to lure investors.

Maheshwari was allegedly involved in enrolling members for the scheme in return for hefty commissions. After his name cropped up in the probe, he was termed as a wanted accused and a lookout circular was issued against him to
prevent his escape from the country.

Sources said Maheshwari was detained at the Delhi International Airport in the last week of February when he was allegedly trying to flee the country. Mumbai EOW officers were informed and asked to take his custody. A team of EOW officers had flown to Delhi and brought Maheshwari to Mumbai, keeping him in custody overnight and letting him go the next morning.

Highly-placed sources said many in the EOW were left wondering how a wanted accused in a multi-crore scam was let off without even being arrested, and if the investigators were so confident about his innocence, why did they not get the lookout circular against him cancelled.

EOW sources said crime branch officers recently recorded statements of some EOW officers in the matter.

Accused's lawyer says
As part of the inquiry, the fact that Maheshwari's advocate Ishwariprasad Bagaria bore the expense of the Delhi-Mumbai flight tickets will also be investigated.

Bagaria said, "A lookout circular was issued against my client as the EOW could not find him at his old house in Delhi; it was undergoing repairs, and hence, he had shifted to another place. My client has been accused of enrolling people into schemes, but when he was questioned by the EOW after being detained, he produced all documents that proved his innocence; the officers were satisfied and let him off."

Prasanna said he was not aware of any such development (the allegation of EOW officers being involved in the scam and he being given the charge of the inter-departmental inquiry).

5 lakh
Number of investors duped across the country in the scam

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