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Indian's #7 million blackmail tactics backfire

Kulwant Singh has admitted in court that he tried to blackmail US bank major American Express for #7 million in a revenge plot.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:17 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A British Indian businessman has admitted that he tried to blackmail US bank major American Express for seven million pounds in a revenge plot.

Kulwant Singh from Greater Manchester claimed that the financial firm was involved in terrorism and corruption after he entered into a dispute with it over travellers' cheques while on a visit to India.

Singh appeared in court Monday and pleaded guilty to one count of blackmail, after being arrested at a hotel in central London late last year.

A Cambridge graduate, Singh had threatened to release what he described as "damning videos" featuring the firm to the Arabic TV station Al Jazeera.

Southwark Crown Court heard that between October 31 and December 6 last year, Singh made "unwarranted demands with menaces" for 6.24 million pounds from the firm's New York-based security chief David Enders.

Sentencing was adjourned until January 30 after Mark Millican-Smith, defending, said time was needed to explore certain "psychiatric issues".

Singh's problems began when his passport and 17,000 pounds in travellers' cheques were allegedly stolen during a business trip to India in February 2001.

He reported the loss to American Express' New Delhi branch, but they became suspicious and refused to reimburse him.

Singh, 30, of Parkwood Drive, Bolton, then returned to Britain and started a damages action, demanding $14 million compensation, but the case was thrown out.

In October last year, he started bombarding the company's New York headquarters with telephone calls, demanding to speak to the chief executive.

The BBC reported that he was put through to Enders instead.

He told the security head he had videotapes of high-ranking American Express officials engaged in acts of terrorism and corruption.

Singh was then arrested at the hotel in Liverpool Street here, after he made an arrangement to get a 602,000 pounds pay-off from a man he thought was working for Enders but was an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 21:33 IST