Mumbai: Shiv Sena spokesperson Krishna Hegde on Tuesday urged the Mumbai Police to move the courts and secure the release of the frozen funds belonging to the investors who were allegedly cheated by a scamster couple arrested on December 30.
The scamsters – Ashesh Shailesh Mehta and his wife Shivangi Lad-Mehta, wanted in multiple states – were nabbed by the Mumbai Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW) from Surat and brought to Mumbai for probe.
After the Mehta couple went ‘missing’ in June 2023, the EOW had ordered freezing of around Rs 170 crore in the bank accounts belonging to Bliss Consultants Trading Co. Ltd. and Zerodha Trading, which is said to be a part of the over Rs 1,000 crore cheated from gullible investors from all over India.
Hegde said that after the EOW gets court’s permission, the funds as well as the proceeds of the properties that are attached, can be distributed among the investors who had lost money in the scams allegedly perpetrated by the Mehtas.
Among the victims of the Mehta scams were many senior citizens, pensioners, single-parents and small investors, who were left high and dry after the Mehtas duped them of their hard-earned monies, Hegde said.
It maybe recalled that after a hot pursuit of six months, the Mumbai Police finally caught up with the Mehta couple in Surat, and nabbed them for the alleged scam of over Rs 1,000 crore. They were remanded to police custody pending further investigations.
The case first started around June 2023 with the Madhya Pradesh Police, but seemed to have lost steam, till Hegde raised the issue with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who ordered a detailed police probe into the matter in July.
An FIR was lodged on June 26, later transferred to the EOW, with 151 complainants, alleging that over 6,000 investors from the country were cheated of their monies by the Mehtas.
In early December, the Punjab and Gujarat Police had arrested Ashesh Mehta’s father, Shailesh Mehta, 71, from Ahmedabad.
The Mehta couple had faced Look Out Circulars issued by the Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh Police, while the Gujarat and Punjab Police also wanted their custody to probe complaints in their respective states.
The lid blew off the scam 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 during a probe into 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 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.