Mumbai restaurant sealed after owner dupes 10 banks of Rs 9.5 cr

Mumbai Mirchi, a restaurant in Andheri (East) popular among office goers, today bears a deserted look after 10 banks have sealed the 2,400 square feet-premises and put up auction notices. The financial institutions say that the same premise has been illegally mortgaged to more than one bank to the tune of Rs 9.5 crore.

Mumbai Mirchi scam
Different banks have sealed the premises and put up legal notices against Sawant

The entire scam was unearthed when Karvy Financial Services, Andheri (East) filed an FIR in February. In their FIR, the company alleged that they loaned over Rs 60 lakh to a company run by Rajesh Sawant, against a mortgage for the restaurant in September 2011. However, when Sawant was unable to repay the loan, they discovered that the same property (Mumbai Mirchi) had been illegally mortgaged to other banks too.

Rajesh Sawant
Rajesh Sawant, the main accused, in the case is wanted for questioning in the Mumbai Mirchi scam. Pic/Satyajit Desai

“We subsequently discovered that the accused was hand-in-glove with one of our DSAs (Direct Sales Agent) and had managed to procure a loan from us fraudulently,” alleged a senior official from Karvy, who did not wish to be named. But, the same has been substantiated in the FIR (copy available with MiD DAY).

The official added that the company further discovered that a loan of Rs 1.47 crore had already been procured by the accused from the Sahebrao Deshmukh Co-operative Bank Ltd based in Andheri (East) with the help of his partner Subhashrao Deshmukh, who has also been named as a co-accused in the FIR.

Deshmukh also happens to be on the board of the bank. Further investigations revealed that the same property was mortgaged for Rs 45 lakh from New India co-operative bank, Mulund branch. Vinod Mishra, chairman of Malad Sahakari co-op bank, confirmed that his bank too had initiated legal action against Sawant. “We too have issued a notice against the restaurant and another property in Karjat to recover our dues.”

Police say
Investigating officer Inspector Shekhar Bhalerao, Andheri police station, was unavailable for comment. However, the FIR indicates that sections 465, 467, 468, 474 and 420 have been pressed against Sawant and his accomplice Deshmukh. And even as investigations are on, Sawant is wanted for questioning.

>> The financial institutions allegedly duped by Rajesh Sawant:
>> The Central Bank India (Vile Parle East branch): Rs 1.5 crore
>> Sangli Sahakari Co-op bank (Malad branch): Rs 50 lakh
>> Konkan Mercantile Bank (Jogeshwari branch): Rs 1.20 crore
>> Shamrao Vithal bank (Vakola branch): Rs 65 lakh
>> Malad Sahakari Co-op Bank (Malad branch): Rs 65 lakh
>> Sahyadri Co-op bank (Kandivli branch): Rs 1.10 crore
>> Reliance Finance: Rs 1.35 crore
>> New India Co-op bank (Mulund): Rs 45 lakh
>> Karvy Finance (Andheri East): Rs 65 lakh
>> Sahebrao Deshmukh Co-op Bank Ltd (Andheri East): Rs 1.4 crore

The other side
Subhashrao Deshmukh, who has been named as a co-accused in the FIR, stated that he was, in fact, a victim of the scam. “I was a director in Sawant’s company called Modern Fast Foods. In the last two years, I sensed that inappropriate financial transactions were taking place so I resigned in 2010. My bank did issue a loan of approx Rs 1.4 crore, but that was against the original title of the premises.

I am personally not aware of the FIR, but can say that we ourselves are in the process of taking criminal action against Sawant.” He added that all the other organisations that gave money to Sawant did not consult with him. “These institutions should have minutely scrutinised Sawant’s credentials before passing his loan.”

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