After six-month hunt, fugitive scamster couple lands in Mumbai Police net

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | December 30, 2023 IST

Mumbai, Dec 30: After a hot pursuit of six months, Mumbai Police have finally arrested Ashesh Shailesh Mehta and his wife Shivangi Lad-Mehta, the absconding couple who allegedly committed a scam of over Rs 1,000 crore, before 'disappearing' from Mumbai, sources said here on Saturday.

Mehtas, the proprietors of Bliss Consultants Trading Co. Ltd., who were suspected to have fled the country, are currently in the custody of Mumbai Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW), an official said, declining to elaborate.

The proprietors of Bliss Consultants Trading Co. Ltd., the Mehtas, were nabbed from Surat in Gujarat, and are presently in the custody of Mumbai Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW), an official said, declining to elaborate.

"The accused persons were caught from Surat, brought to Mumbai and after questioning, they have been arrested. They have been remanded to police custody till January 4, and further investigations are underway," a top EOW official told IANS.

The case, which started around June with the Madhya Pradesh Police but seemed to have lost steam, picked up momentum when ruling Shiv Sena spokesperson Krishna Hegde raised the issue with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who ordered a detailed police probe into the matter in July.

On learning of the 'big catch', the police in Gujarat and Punjab -- which earlier this month nabbed Ashesh's father Shailesh Mehta (71) from an old-age home in Ahmedabad – have also sent teams seeking to probe the couple.

It all started with an FIR on June 26 -- which was transferred to the EOW -- with 151 complainants, that was lodged by Hegde, alleging that more than 6,000 investors all over India had lost their hard-earned money after being duped by the Mehta couple.

"The Mehtas are facing complaints under the MPID and other laws. With their arrest, the EOW has now indicated that they will make attempts to release their frozen funds and seized properties which can be disposed of to clear the investors' dues gradually in due course as per the laws," Hegde told IANS.

The Mehtas had faced Look Out Circulars from Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh Police, while the Gujarat and Punjab police also wanted their custody to probe complaints in their states, but officials remained tight-lipped on various aspects of the case to avoid tipping off their accomplices.

The lid blew off the scam -- which was prominently highlighted by IANS in June-July -- after suspicious withdrawals-transfers of huge amounts of around Rs 174 crore to multiple accounts of the scamster couple's associates or other entities, all of which are being probed.

The police in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh, stumbled onto the scam when they were probing a narcotics case there linked to the Mehta couple, as other frauds of money-laundering, illegal Ponzi schemes, gypping investors and common masses tumbled out, estimated to be of over Rs 1,000 crore.

In September, Mumbai Police froze five prime residential properties in Kandivali, Goregaon and Santacruz, 11 bank accounts of the missing couple and their companies, worth a total of around Rs 175 crore

Teams from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab Police had done multiple rounds of the flat in Goregaon East where the Mehta couple was last seen six months ago but had returned empty-handed.

The low-profile Mehtas allegedly plotted the entire mega-scam but their luck ended when a suspected drug peddler, Nissar Zubair Khan of Mira Road (Thane), was arrested by Madhya Pradesh Police with a packet of Mephedrone drugs worth Rs 17 lakh in early-June.

However, the Mehtas' lawyers have consistently claimed that their clients were being framed in the case though they were cooperative with the investigators.

Expressing gratitude to Mumbai Police Commissioner Vivek Phansalkar, Joint Commissioner Mishra, Investigating Officer Mahendra Sawardekar, Chief Minister Shinde and others, Hegde said there will be 'zero tolerance' for such scamsters who dupe innocent people and then vanish. (IANS)

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