A Pune-based businessman, who floated various companies, was arrested by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police on Friday night for duping around 20 lakh investors of Rs2,000 crore.
Fifty-six-year-old Balasaheb Bhapkar, managing director and chairman of Sai Prasad Properties Limited, Goa, and Sai Prasad Foods Limited, Pune, collected funds from investors without requisite permissions from the RBI and SEBI, said EOW officials, adding that the companies continued to operate despite both the RBI and SEBI sending them legal notices.
The authorities are now on the lookout for at least five others, including two women and Bhapkar’s son, who could be involved in the racket. Bhapkar, meanwhile, was produced before a local court and was remanded in police custody till December 10.
The EOW has currently frozen 193 bank accounts in 15 banks that hold Rs74 crore in connection with the case. “The investors were promised returns of 12% to18% via daily/monthly/yearly schemes. There are numerous sister concern companies to which the funds have been rerouted,” said Dhananjay Kamlakar, joint commissioner of police, EOW, adding the companies already have five criminal cases registered against them in Gwalior, Jaipur and Chhattisgarh, with one case being probed by the CBI.
The companies have holdings of 1,600 acres of land, parts of which they gave as collateral returns, after people invested money.
Over a period of time, the companies inked agreements in lieu of land beyond their holding capacity, said police officers.
The sister concern companies of the two main firms are into petroleum, energy and property development businesses, said officials, adding that the money collected from investors might have been invested in these businesses.
Interestingly, SEBI had launched an enquiry in 2010 against the companies, but lodged a formal complaint with the Mumbai police only a month ago.
After the complaint, a team of 50 EOW personnel was formed and simultaneous raids were conducted at 30 places, including 27 offices and three residential apartments, across Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Goa.
The teams seized 60 computer hard disks and Rs60 lakh during the raids.