Mumbai: Businessman Deven Mehta booked for duping architect of ₹11.66 crore
The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police on Wednesday booked businessman Deven Mehta of Smart Card IT Solutions, one of the largest manufacturers of smart cards in India, for cheating an architect to the tune of ₹11.66 crore.
Mehta allegedly took his service for interior designing of three of his properties in Mumbai and Alibag but defaulted in making the payment.
The complainant architect, Nozer Rishi Wadia, 66, a Malabar Hill resident, has been in the interior designing business for the past 35 years.
In his complaint to the police, Wadia stated that in 2016, he was introduced to Mehta and wife Ushma in his rented residence at Kanta Building in Malabar Hill, by a common acquaintance. Mehta then asked him to remodel his rented house.
“It was decided that Mehta would pay the cost of the furniture and Wadia’s fee - ₹20 lakh, but he allegedly paid only ₹5 lakh. He assured Wadia that he would give him more work in future and would make the balance payment in new orders. Mehta also did not pay for the furniture,” Wadia alleged in his complaint.
Deven Mehta said, “Its a frivolous complaint. This complaint was made to EOW by Nozer Wadia three years ago, but then the EOW officers had then disposed it of, terming it a civil matter as they did not find any criminal aspect in the complaint. I have made all the payments to Wadia and have sufficient proofs of the same. I don’t understand the logic behind reopening an already disposed off matter.”
Hwoever, the complainant Nozer Wadia refused to comment on the matter.
In December 2016, Mehta entrusted Wadia with the interior work of his 10,000 square feet luxurious flat in a building on Altamount Road. “Mehta and Wadia mutually decided terms and conditions for the deal. Wadia carried out interior work worth ₹1.11 crore which included his architecture fee of ₹70 lakh. But Mehta only paid ₹10 lakh to Wadia, despite Wadia regularly presenting bills to him. When he asked about the rest of the payment, Mehta told him that he wishes to give him another order for the interior of his bungalow in Alibag and promised to make payment of all the balance dues after the work,” said an EOW officer.
Wadia’s firm carried out all the interior work worth ₹16.5 crore at Mehta’s bungalow, Jay Niwas at Alibag. This included Wadia’s architecture fee of ₹2.13 crore. However, Mehta paid only ₹50 lakh to Wadia. This is when Wadia realised that Mehta has no intention of making his full payment.
Wadia, after waiting for months, recently approached the police and lodged a first information report (FIR).
“Mehta between 2016 and 2017 allegedly took services from Wadia and various other contractors worth ₹17.86 crore but paid only ₹6.20 crore and cheated him and other contractors of ₹11.66 crore. He also failed to make payment for the furniture worth ₹71 lakh,” the FIR states.
Mehta and Ushma have been booked under sections 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code after a preliminary inquiry find material in the case.
Mehta was in news for buying an apartment in luxurious Lodha Altamount for ₹57.45 crore in 2017.
He was previously arrested by EOW in 2019 at the Mumbai airport for allegedly cheating a Hong Kong-based Non-resident Indian (NRI) of ₹9 crore under the pretext of selling him a 5-acre land in Raigad which belonged to the forest department.
Earlier this year, he was also arrested by Pune GST officials for alleged fraud and causing a loss of ₹45 crore to the revenue.