How jailed crook extorted 200 crore rupees from former Ranbaxy owner’s wife
While a former billionaire is in jail, his wife spends hours on the phone discussing payments to secure bail for him. She appears to believe she is talking to senior government officials, including the country’s interior minister. She requests a meeting with the Home Secretary – and she is told it will happen in due course if she “cooperates”. She discusses the money that was paid without the promised results. She talks about the money she gave to “a party fund”.
It takes her months to find out that her conversations are with an impersonator, that she has been scammed for millions of dollars. After being alerted by the Directorate of Enforcement in July, she began recording the conversations. It then submits them to the Directorate of Enforcement. And files a complaint with the Delhi police alleging extortion and cheating totaling 200 crore.
It’s a story full of twists and turns. Most importantly, the man who called her was doing it from prison. He had access to a cell phone and used software that allowed him to “duplicate” or “spoof” the phone numbers of senior government officials.
The tapes – 84 of them – were submitted by the Enforcement Directorate to a Delhi court to help nail Sukesh Chandrashekhar, who has been in jail since 2017.
The woman who helped ‘sting’ him is Aditi Singh, whose husband, Shivinder Singh, once co-owned pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy with his brother, Malvinder Singh. Shivinder Singh was arrested in 2019 for money laundering.
No government officer posing as Sukesh Chandrashekhar has lodged a complaint with the police. Because no part of the 200 crore was paid to a government official, there is no “bribe” involved.
Aditi Singh’s police case is filed against Sukesh Chandrashekhar, alleging that she was threatened with paying 200 crore. NDTV contacted her for comment; this report will be updated with a response from his lawyer, once received.
In June 2020, Aditi Singh began engaging with what she believed to be senior government officials. Sukesh Chandrashekhar was ambitious in the identities he faked – he had a few conversations with her as Ajay Bhalla, the top Home Office official; like Anoop Kumar, the country’s legal secretary; and as ‘Abhinav’, a junior Law Ministry officer, who was more direct than others in discussing necessary cash payments.
Sukesh Chandrashekhar and Aditi Singh’s phones had been tapped for various matters related to them. Their conversations spanned 11 months; subsequent exchanges were recorded by Aditi Singh, investigators said. His sister, Arundhati Khanna, is also on record, discussing how assets are liquidated by his family to mobilize payments.
Registration submitted by the Directorate of Enforcement
Sukesh Chandrashekhar, in her various avatars, refers to Supreme Court bail hearings and demands money before them. Aditi Singh’s sister, Arundhati, expresses her unease at this direct reference to the legal process, saying, “So now if you put so much pressure on me brother, I can’t work. I have already told you. And before also it is It only bought trouble, trouble and more trouble. And we don’t know what you are using the money for. I never asked you, I was never told. I do not want to know. Because we were giving it away for a party fund. We donate. What is the donation used for? Whether you use it for elections or use it to bring to Ganga or use it to plant trees – the choice is yours. I don’t know, so we don’t ask.
In a conversation, participating from prison, Shivinder Singh requests a meeting between his wife and the legal secretary. Aditi Singh is also promised at this meeting by the “Minister of the Interior Ajay Bhalla”. He claims to have been “personally instructed by the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Amit Shah” to call him. He says government agents “will contact you to see your husband released,” but that depends on his continued “cooperation” which he says has weakened. She promises to correct things and seeks a date with him. ‘Ajay Bhalla’ says it will come at the right time, ditto for a meeting with the Home Secretary.
In August, NDTV reported that Aditi Singh had filed a complaint with the FIR or the police against Sukesh Chandrashekar, accusing him of taking Rs 200 crore in 30 installments. In the complaint, she spoke of calls from “Anoop Kumar (Legal Secretary)” and “Under Secretary Abhinav” for money that was collected in several installments by two people in a sedan.
“These people scared me, threatened me. So slowly, I gave them 200 crore, using my jewelry, investments and other assets. Even then the threats continued. They pointed at my children who were studying abroad and said they would settle accounts with them, ”she said in her complaint, which was filed after being informed by the Directorate of the execution that she was being tricked.
Aditi Singh appears to be one of Sukesh Chandrashekhar’s many “targets”. He lived an ultra-luxurious lifestyle in Chennai with a seaside mansion and a fleet of 23 cars including a Ferrari, Bentley and Rolls Royce. Actor Jacqueline Fernandes has been linked to a money laundering case against her and was recently arrested at Mumbai airport for flying overseas. She told investigators that Sukesh Chandrashekhar offered her Gucci sportswear, Chanel bags and expensive vacations with private jets, but that she did not participate in any illicit financial deals with him.