The big deal about the Big Bull: 5 things to know about Harshad Mehta
1) Harshad Mehta was a flamboyant stock broker known as the Big Bull who, in the early 1990s, in collusion with unscrupulous bankers, pulled off what was until then the biggest stock market and banking fraud in the history of India. When news of the scandal broke in April 1992, it turned a stock market boom to bust and plunged the then Congress government, led by Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, into a crisis.
2) Mehta’s Growmore Research and Assets Management occupied a whole floor in Maker Chambers V in Nariman Point, then known as India’s most expensive real estate. Known for his flashy lifestyle, Mehta lived in a swanky penthouse in Worli Seaface, a fashionable Mumbai neighbourhood, and owned a fleet of luxury cars.
3) It turned out that Mehta had funded his flashy lifestyle by siphoning bank funds in inter-bank transactions and investing heavily in some shares that rose to stratospheric heights, stoking a stock market boom. He was later charged with more than 70 criminal offences, arrested and banned from trading in the stock market. Mehta and his brothers were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in November 1992 for allegedly misappropriating more than 2.8 million shares of about 90 companies, including Associated Cement Companies and Hindalco, through forged share transfer forms.
4) Mehta was convicted by the Bombay high court and sentenced to five years in prison in September 1999, a ruling confirmed by the Supreme Court in January 2003. Mehta was under custody in the Thane prison when he complained of chest pain and was hospitalised. He died of a heart ailment, aged 47, on 31 December 2001.
5) Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, a Hindi drama web series directed by Hansal Mehta, is adapted from journalist Sucheta Dalal and Debashish Basu’s book, The Scam: Who Won, who Lost, who Got Away. A movie, The Big Bull, starring Abhishek Bachchan, is also in the works.