?Black? dollars: Sacked navy man held | india | Hindustan Times
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?Black? dollars: Sacked navy man held

WITH THE arrest of a dismissed naval officer Ramesh Prajapati from a hotel here on Thursday, the city police busted a major international racket involved in the smuggling of ?black? dollars. Later, he was produced in court and the police have applied for his remand. The police seized dollars amounting to Rs 9 lakh, fake ID cards, stamps of navy top brass and a Nigerian passport. Among other goods recovered are navy uniforms and chemicals used by Prajapati to clean the dollars coated with chemicals by his Nigerian friends.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 00:11 IST

WITH THE arrest of a dismissed naval officer Ramesh Prajapati from a hotel here on Thursday, the city police busted a major international racket involved in the smuggling of ‘black’ dollars. Later, he was produced in court and the police have applied for his remand.

The police seized dollars amounting to Rs 9 lakh, fake ID cards, stamps of navy top brass and a Nigerian passport. Among other goods recovered are navy uniforms and chemicals used by Prajapati to clean the dollars coated with chemicals by his Nigerian friends.

CO Kotwali Rakesh Jolly said the police were trying to unearth the channels funding the accused. The police suspect Prajapati, sacked from the navy in 2001 for financial embezzlement, could be part of an international drug cartel or be involved in passing on defence secrets.

The cops were busy cross checking details of his three cellphones through which he was in touch with people in United States, United Kingdom, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nigeria and Hong Kong.

A Class X pass-out, Prajapati fell in the police net on Thursday morning. He was picked up from a Mall Road hotel by a police team, headed by Jolly. The cops were trailing Prajapati for the last five days. Incidentally, Prajapati posed as a Lieutenant Commander and had approached two companies to buy computer systems, including laptops.

Prajapati had told the companies that he was empowered to sanction up to Rs 75 lakh from the Navy for making the purchases. However, certain conditions that he cited made the companies suspicious and they informed SSP PC Meena.

Soon, Jolly was entrusted with the task of finding out the truth. During monitoring, the team found Prajapati moving around suspiciously in the company of a local woman.

Upon searching his room, the police team laid hands on $16,500, some partially coated Omani currency, three cellphones, chemicals, a Nigerian passport, uniforms and voter IDs.

On being interrogated, Prajapati, who hails from Deoria, disclosed that some Nigerians, with whom he had developed contact through Internet chatting had given him the dollars.

He added that the Nigerians had assured him that they would give him Rs 2 crore in charity for religious purpose.

Narrating the events, Prajapati said he met them at a hotel where the Nigerians, wearing embassy badges, gave him $1500. “Initially, the notes appeared to be mere pieces of black paper. But, when they dipped those in a chemical, the black coating vanished instantaneously,” he told the police. He encashed the dollars and entered into the business on a fulltime basis.

But the police aren’t buying his story and want to go in for a detailed investigation. “These include: Why was he visiting cities with vital military installations? Why was he getting dollars and from whom? Why did he want to buy computers in bulk and why was he hell bent on meeting HAL officials? Who were the overseas persons he talked so frequently to? How was he enjoying a lavish lifestyle despite having no known source of income,” said Jolly.