Ponzi scheme operator Shekhar Chandrashekhar, who, along with his live-in partner Leena Paul, duped over 500 investors from Mumbai to the tune of over Rs 19 crore, was granted bail by the Supreme Court last week. The court, however, stated that his bail would be revoked if he fails to refund the investors in the next four months. Shekhar had approached the apex court after the Bombay High Court rejected his bail plea.
One of the several high-end cars which Shekhar purchased using the money invested by the victims in his Ponzi schemes
While granting bail, the SC observed: “In terms of the undertaking furnished by the accused-appellant before the court, the necessary deposit of the amount stated in the said undertaking shall be made within a period of one month in respect of Rs 3.5 crore and within three months in respect of Rs 16 crore (the remaining amount), failing which the bail will stand cancelled without further reference to the court.”
While Shekhar may heave a sigh of relief, police sources claimed that he is likely to be taken to Chennai today from Arthur Road Jail. They stated that Chennai police have secured a warrant against Shekhar in a previous case in which he jumped bail granted by the Madras High Court in 2014 for his involvement in a similar case.
Upon learning about Shekhar managing to secure bail from the apex court, Joint Commissioner of Police (EOW) Dhananjay Kamalakar contacted his counterparts in Chennai last week, ensuring that they reached the city in time and take Shekhar into custody before he once again jumps bail following his exit from the jail, said sources.
Commenting on Shekhar’s bail, officers from the economic offences wing (EOW) of Mumbai police said that he has nearly 16 cases of fraud registered against him across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Delhi. They also expressed doubts over Shekhar’s undertaking that he would refund all the investors, claiming that he has no property in his name. Shedding light on his modus operandi, officers claimed that Shekhar changes the city after cheating people every time he is out on bail.
A senior officer from Arthur Road jail, where Shekhar is currently lodged, said, “He had no money to spend inside the jail. As per norms, family, friends or relatives can send Rs 2,500 every month through money order, so that an inmate can buy products from the jail’s canteen. But Shekhar had no money to buy anything from the canteen.”
Sources from Mumbai police claimed that before getting himself admitted in Rajawadi hospital, Shekhar tried every trick in the book to secure a bed at KEM hospital. To avoid spending days behind bars, he called doctors at the KEM and pressured them into admitting him at the hospital by posing as a senior Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer. The tactic worked and Shekhar spent a month at KEM during the second half of 2015. He was shifted back to JJ hospital after EOW officers informed the court about the same.
Probe is also underway to find out how Shekhar managed to get himself admitted to Rajawadi from JJ hospital. During investigation, JJ authorities informed the prisons department that they had never referred him to Rajawadi, as theirs is a well-equipped medical facility. Bipin Kumar Singh, inspector general of police (south), prisons), confirmed that an inquiry is underway to trace the accused who aided Shekhar to shift ‘unlawfully’ to Rajawadi from JJ hospital without a court order. Sources also claimed that in 2013-2014, Shekhar duped a Chennai-based doctor to the tune of Rs 50 lakh under the pretext of getting him a luxurious apartment.
Shekhar, who is booked under Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act, was arrested in June 2015, along with eight accomplices, including Leena and three kin of Bollywood lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, for operating a fraudulent investment scheme. He was accused of luring his victims to invest in Lion Oak India by posing as an MP from Bengaluru. Following his arrest, EOW seized 11 high-end cars such as Maserati, Bentley, Mercedes, Audi, and Nissan, high-end watches, jewellery and furniture. While Rs 80 lakh was recovered by auctioning the cars, the other items fetched Rs 30 lakh.