Delhi police have filed a charge sheet against Sukesh Chandrashekhar and Leena Paul for allegedly misleading the family of former Fortis Healthcare and Ranbaxy Lab promoters, Shivinder and Malvinder Singh, out of more than 200 million rupees.
The couple, against whom there are 32 pending criminal cases, posed as senior government officials and claimed they could obtain bail for the brothers, who have been in Delhi’s Tihar jail since 2019.
Police have invoked the MCOCA organized crime law against them, two senior officials from the city’s Rohini jail who allegedly aided Sukesh and three others who helped launder ill-gotten gains.
“… the investigation found that there is an organized crime syndicate and they (Sukesh and Leena) are running (the network) …” Delhi police have said, referring to the two as the “brains”.
Sukesh Chandrashekhar, the man at the heart of this union, was arrested for the first time in 2007, when he was 17 years old. He allegedly cheated on a businessman out of 1.15 million rupees.
Three years later he met Leena Paul, a small-time actress, and five years later they were married.
“She desperately needed money to maintain a lifestyle that matched Leena’s wishes and requirements. After the initial phase, Leena also got involved and started helping,” Sukesh told police.
Sukesh met Shivinder Singh (and Unitech promoters Sanjay and Ajay Chandra) at Tihar Jail, where he had been incarcerated until mid-2020, and it was there that the seeds of the scam were sown, and began plotting to deceive the Singh’s family with the promise of bail.
Sukesh Chandrashekhar then allegedly ran a Rs 200 crore scam with an iPhone and four apps, including WhatsApp and Telegram.
The first call was made on June 15 last year to Aditi Singh, Shivinder’s wife. Claiming to be Union Law Secretary Anoop Kumar, Sukesh used a high-end phishing app to trick her into believing the call was from a landline.
“I am appealing to the instructions of the highest authority’s office and they have asked me to help you secure bail for your husband,” she declared, slowly dragging the unfortunate Ms. Singh into her trap.
When she got hooked, Sukesh demanded money “on behalf of the party,” police said.
Then, in a bolder move, on August 19 he used the same phishing app to pretend he was calling from the home of then-Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The next day, Ms Singh received a “call” from the office of the Minister of the Interior, Amit Shah; “The Interior Minister is listening to this … behave yourself,” they told him.
Sukesh Chandrashekhar’s attention to detail was impressive, police admitted. For example, he ended each call with Ms. Singh saying “Jai Hind”.
All this from a man who has a pass number 12 but has a good knowledge of technology, police sources have said.
Using Hushed, Sukesh also created two virtual numbers, one for WhatsApp and Telegram. These were used to extort money from Ms. Singh and her associates to launder the cash.
Between June 2020 and August 2021, Sukesh Chandrashekhar extorted 201.75 million rupees, and that’s where imprisoned Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra came on the scene.
Sukesh told police that Chandra introduced him to Deepak Ramnani, who collected Ms. Singh’s money and dragged it through a hawala net.
Ramnani hired Avtar Singh Kochar to transfer the money through 53 shell companies.
In his confession (under MCOCA), Kochar said that Rs 90-100 million were sent abroad and Rs 10-12 million were sent to Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad.
The investigation also revealed that Sukesh Chandrashekhar scammed Sapna Godhwani, Malvinder Singh’s wife, out of Rs 4.5 crore using the same modus operandi.
He has told the police that a certain amount of money has been invested in cryptocurrencies.
Part of the rest, 7.5 million rupees, has been invested in a country house on the outskirts of Chennai, and also in 23 high-end cars. All of this has been taken over by the Directorate of Execution.
Leena Paul’s role in all of this included buying the phishing app Sukesh used to blackmail. Law enforcement sources have told NDTV that the investigation has not yet fully discovered the extent to which Sukesh Chandrashekhar and Leena Paul used such advanced technology to carry out their crimes.