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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Mumbai Goregaon couples trades were illegal EOW says in chargesheet

Mumbai: ‘Goregaon couple’s trades were illegal,' EOW says in chargesheet

Updated on: 05 April,2024 04:56 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Samiullah Khan , Faizan Khan |

EOW’s 9,000-page charge sheet details all the ways in which influencers apparently flouted RBI rules and put investor money in jeopardy

Mumbai: ‘Goregaon couple’s trades were illegal,' EOW says in chargesheet

Ashesh and Shivangi Mehta, the founders and directors of Bliss Consultants

The incarcerated Goregaon couple Ashesh and Shivangi Mehta were allegedly operating their trading firm Bliss Consultants without authorisation from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), according to a 9,000-page charge sheet filed against them by the Mumbai police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW). Initially, the couple was perceived as victims of a fake arbitration case totalling Rs 200 crore, which led to their downfall. However, the charge sheet presents a different tale.

On March 30, the EOW filed a charge sheet asserting that Ashesh unlawfully accepted investments as he lacked authorisation from SEBI, RBI, or any other government agency. The EOW noted that over 4,000 investors entrusted their hard-earned money with the Mehtas, with complaints received from 581 investors who were allegedly duped of R172 crore in total. The charge sheet also states that the couple returned Rs 61 crore that was invested in their firm to some investors.

Ashesh and Shivangi Mehta, founders, directors of Bliss Consultants
Ashesh and Shivangi Mehta, founders, directors of Bliss Consultants

During the investigation, the EOW discovered that the couple still possesses approximately Rs 170 crore, which is frozen in various bank accounts belonging to Bliss Consultants and them. This sum also encompasses movable and immovable properties owned by the couple, which the agency has seized.

Investors enticed

Documents submitted by investors, along with bank statements, revealed that Mehta enticed investors with promises of three to four per cent monthly returns. The charge sheet exposes that the couple diverted investors funds by transferring them to their demat account instead of trading from the investors' accounts. Witnesses stated that Mehta encouraged investors to use his trading firm’s mobile app. 

The accused also used investors’ funds to purchase five immovable properties for personal gain. The EOW also uncovered instances where Ashesh allegedly shared fake screenshots of investments and false trading information. “Ashesh Mehta continued to provide returns of 2.5 per cent to investors every month, even during periods of stock market losses,” as stated in the charge sheet.

70:30 operation

According to the EOW, the Mehtas promised investors 70 per cent of the profits while retaining the rest for themselves. The investor agreements stipulated that in the event of a loss, investors would forfeit 70 per cent while the couple would return 30 per cent from their share. “This tactic was designed to entice investors by assuring them minimal chances of loss, with a promise of retaining 30 per cent in case of any losses. We discovered that despite losses, the couple diverted investments to their sister companies, while their own app falsely depicted profits to investors,” revealed an officer privy to the investigation.

The charge sheet states that after Ashesh received an investment, he would transfer the amount to his personal Zerodha Broking demat account and trade. The accused would depict the amount received from investors as profits to other investors.  “It is clear that the accused is defrauding the investors by giving the amount received from the investors again as profit to his old investors (sic),” the charge sheet states.

The charge sheet claims Shivangi was involved in decision-making regarding investments. Officials discovered that approximately R68.71 lakh was transferred from Bliss Consultants to her bank account. “Ashesh enticed investors into investing via his trading firm’s mobile app, DIFM, promising returns of three to four per cent per month. Shivangi played a role in these activities and was responsible for the administrative work at Bliss Consultants,” the charge sheet reads.

Advocate Speak

Hemant Ingle, the Mehtas’ lawyer, said, “My clients have been unjustly prosecuted under the MPID [Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors] Act and the entire charge sheet fails to address the involvement of Denron Rea-IT Trade and its directors. The investigation conducted by EOW Unit VIII appears to be incomplete and lacking in truthfulness, as it overlooks the role of Denron and Ajay Harinath Singh. Despite a separate FIR being lodged to expose the fraud committed by Denron and its directors, EOW Unit VIII has chosen to ignore this crucial aspect. The charge sheet produced by them is incomplete and does not accurately reflect the facts, which goes against the directives of the Supreme Court.”

He added, “All evidence about the fraud committed by Denron and its directors has been provided to EOW Unit VIII, yet it has not been included in the charge sheet. This suggests bias on the part of the investigating agency and raises concerns about the fairness of the probe conducted against my clients. We intend to bring these pertinent facts to the attention of the honourable court and seek a fair investigation into the matter.”

Case history

The Mehtas are the founders and directors of Bliss Consultants, which has 2,400 pulsating customers and a remarkable growth rate of 500 per cent across more than nine countries. However, the couple’s fortunes took a drastic turn when they were ensnared in a drug-related case by the Khaniyadhana police of Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh in June 2023.

During a sweeping crackdown on high-profile drug rackets, the police arrested Nisaar Zubair Khan, a resident of Mira Road in Thane district, on June 9, 2023. Khan was found in possession of 142 grams of mephedrone (MD) valued at R17 lakh. During his interrogation, Khan implicated the couple, claiming that he had been working for them and transporting drugs across the country.

Upon receiving this information, officers from the Khaniyadhana police travelled to Mumbai and the couple was detained and taken to the Aarey police station, where Khan identified them among 12 individuals. The couple was then released with a summons to appear before the authorities for further investigation.

However, the couple went into hiding in July 2023. Subsequently, an ex-MLA filed a case against them at Amboli police station, which was later transferred to the EOW. The investigation included charges under the MPID Act, and the authorities seized the couple's property and bank accounts.

Numerous FIRs, exceeding 150, were filed against the couple nationwide. Additionally, an FIR was lodged against Ashesh’s father, Shailesh Mehta, by the Sohana police in SAS Nagar district, Punjab, on December 2. Shailesh was arrested and spent over two months in jail before being released on bail.

However, in the same month, the Madhya Pradesh police cleared the couple of involvement in the drug case, removing their names from the investigation. Nonetheless, the EOW police arrested the couple in December 2023, and they have been in jail since then.

Approx no of complaints filed against couple nationwide

Year couple went into hiding and was eventually arrested

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