Delhi police question actor Jacqueline Fernandez in conman case
This is the first time the Delhi police are questioning Jacqueline Fernandez in connection with the case of fraud involving jailed conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar
New Delhi: Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez was questioned for over eight hours on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) at Mandir Marg in connection with the over ₹200 crore fraud involving jailed conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, the Delhi Police said, and added that she was also confronted with Pinky Irani, the person who allegedly introduced the actor to Chandrashekhar.
Another actor, Nora Fatehi, who was questioned by the EOW in the same case on September 2, has also been asked to join questioning for the second round on Thursday, the police said.
Senior EOW officers, who questioned Fernandez and Irani on Wednesday, said that they found “inconsistencies and contradictions” in their version of events that they gave when they were questioned separately. The investigating team had prepared a questionnaire consisting of over 50 questions for Fernandez, they said, and added the special commissioner of police (crime) Ravindra Yadav had also joined the probing team.
“The 50-plus questions were mostly related to Fernandez’s relations with Chandrashekhar, about her meetings and telephonic conversations with him, the cash and gifts she received from him, the shoppings she did using his ill-gotten money in India and abroad, and how she came in contact with him and when. More counter questions were asked based on her responses to them,” said a senior EOW officer, who asked not to be named.
Special commissioner Ravindra Yadav confirmed that actor Nora Fatehi will be questioned on Thursday, and added that she will be confronted with Pinky also. “As Pinky Irani is in the city, we will question both of them tomorrow (Thursday). There are certain things that need to be clarified. There is no direct connection between Fernandez and Fatehi with respect to this case,” said Yadav.
As the investigating officers were not satisfied with the answers of Fernandez and Irani, the two have been asked to appear before them again in the coming days. The second round of questioning at the EOW headquarters will be done as per the availability of the actor and Irani, they said. The two would be served notices in advance for the same, they added.
“We will call both Fernandez and Irani again and will proceed in the case accordingly,” added Yadav.
The Delhi police earlier summoned Fernandez on August 29 and September 12, but she did not appear before the investigating officer at the EOW headquarters. A special public prosecutor told the court last month that Fernandez did not join the probe despite being summoned, after which her lawyers assured the court that she would comply with the police summon.
On Wednesday, Fernandez arrived at the EOW headquarters around 11am, nearly 15 minutes after Irani reached there. They both left the EOW headquarters around 7.30pm.
While Fernandez was earlier questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has also named her in their charge sheet as an accused, Wednesday was the first time the Delhi police questioned the actor in the Rs. 200 crore fraud pulled off by Chandrashekhar from inside Delhi’s Rohini jail. She was allegedly in touch with him between February and October 2021, investigators said.
The actor in her earlier submission to ED denied charges of helping Chandrashekhar and maintained that she was duped by Chandrashekhar who posed as the owner of a prominent channel.
The Delhi Police and ED are separately probing the alleged fraud. While the police’s economic offences wing is probing allegations of fraud and corruption inside jail, ED is investigating the money laundering charges. Last month, ED named Fernandez as an accused, and said that she received gifts from Chandrashekhar, which he had bought from the ₹200 crore fraud money.
The police have arrested and charged jail officers, bankers and private persons who helped Chandrashekhar by smuggling phones or collecting the bribe money. Delhi Police in their charge sheet said Chandrashekhar paid at least ₹12.5 crore each to the jail officers for getting himself a separate barrack, allowing him to make phone calls on a contraband phone and for unfettered access to his accomplices and partners.
A mid-level officer, who asked not to be named, said, “She is an important part of the probe. When Chandrashekhar violated rules by getting cell phones and talking to different people, he had made several calls to her. The calls were made from inside the jail and from the same place every time.”
Chandrashekhar (33) is involved in at least 32 criminal cases across Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka and other states. Between 2020 and early 2021, when he was in Delhi’s Rohini jail,he pulled off a ₹200 crore heist by duping a city industrialist’s wife after posing as the union law secretary. Chandrashekhar took ₹200 crore extortion from jailed industrialist Shivinder Mohan’s wife, Aditi Singh. According to the police, he spoofed phone numbers, posed as a senior bureaucrat, and called Mohan’s wife Aditi with an offer to bail her jailed husband.
According to ED, Chandrashekhar sent expensive gifts to Fernandez, transferred money to her parents and even bought a house for her in Sri Lanka in 2021. Fernandez told ED she had received some gifts but denied allegations of money laundering.