CRIME WATCH: Con caper from car to chopper

CRIME WATCH: Con caper from car to chopper – the history unfolds, rotten to the core ?!!

Rajesh Agarwal, alias Rajesh Jhunjhunwala - no more tie & suit forever ?!! (TT files)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH STAFF REPORTER

Sep 15, 2010: The stamped acknowledgement of a letter to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s office was one of the calling cards of a Calcutta conman who played catch-me-if-you-can with the cops after allegedly defrauding everyone from his employer to the Sikkim government of Rs 30 crore.

Police have pieced together a long list of frauds committed by New Alipore resident Rajesh Agarwal, a.k.a. Rajesh Jhunjhunwala, since he was arrested at Rangpo on the Sikkim-Bengal border on August 9 while fleeing that state disguised as a labourer.

Rajesh, in his 40s, had allegedly posed as a tea planter and floated an unregistered company called Jhunjhunwala and Sons to bag a contract to run a state-owned amusement park in Gangtok that was inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil in April.

According to sleuths, the bounced cheque for Rs 1.7 crore that Rajesh had issued to the Sikkim government was just the tip of his iceberg of fraud.

Ramesh Kumar Bajoria, a city businessman who had employed Rajesh as a manager, was the first to file a police complaint against him in December 2008. “The complaint with Beniapukur police station mentioned how Rajesh masqueraded as a tea planter who had fallen on bad times and requested Bajoria for a job. Once he was appointed, he started pilfering lakhs from his employer’s mineral water company,” said a senior officer of the crime branch.

Rajesh, who the police suspect changed his surname to Jhunjhunwala in 2006 through a court affidavit to escape detection, allegedly befriended Bajoria’s business acquaintances even as he set about forging documents and misappropriating funds.

The police have found out that he used forged papers to prove that he was the co-owner of Sonali tea estate in Jalpaiguri district with a “regional office” at 209 AJC Bose Road, which actually houses the offices of Bajoria and his car dealer friend Anil Dewan. “Fortunately for the bank, he fled the city just when the loan was about to be sanctioned,” an investigator said.

By then, Rajesh had duped Dewan into selling him two used sedans — a Hyundai Sonata and a Honda Accord — for a combined price of Rs 10.5 lakh. The cheque bounced, prompting Dewan to file a complaint in early 2009.

Rajesh later sold one of the cars to a Lucknow-based acquaintance of Bajoria for Rs 2.5 lakh. He sold the other car to a Siliguri resident. Both vehicles have been recovered.

Rajesh returned to the city after a hiatus earlier this year and got cracking, this time as an aviation entrepreneur eyeing a helicopter service in north Bengal and Sikkim. On March 3, he sent an “expression of interest” to the chief minister’s office “for operating a helicopter service” from Bagdogra to Darjeeling, Cooch Behar and Sikkim. The official stamped acknowledgement — a routine practice at Writers’ Buildings — became Rajesh’s tool for his next trick.

On April 9, he sent two women masquerading as executives of his company to the Senco jewellery showroom at Entally to purchase 50 gold coins. The women told the staff that their boss would pay for the gold later and that they could verify his credentials by visiting his city office. “A couple of Senco representatives did meet Rajesh and came back convinced that he was a big client,” said an officer.

The two women visited the showroom again the next day to collect 50 more coins. On April 19, Rajesh issued a cheque to Senco for Rs 13.7 lakh, which bounced.

The conman who has confessed to thinking he could do no wrong is now staring at a long jail term.

Name: Rajesh Agarwal, alias Rajesh Jhunjhunwala
Wife: Deepika, alias Arati
Residence: New Alipore
Fraud cash count: Rs 30cr
Victims: Sikkim government, ex-boss, associates, jewellery store, car dealer and many others

EARLIER LAST MONTH

Alleged fraudster denied bail by CJM, sent to 7 days’ police remand – the conman who couldn’t get away, high-flying days now over forever ?!!

From The Sikkim Reporter

Gangtok, Aug 11, 2010: Rajen Jhunjhunwala, who was arrested by Criminal Investigating Department (CID) on Monday, August 9, for alleged fraud in getting a contract from RMD department in July 2010 to maintain and operate Khanchendzonga Tourist Villa cum-Socio-Cultural Amusement Park of Ranka, was produced before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate on Tuesday, 10th August. The court denied bail to the accused and sent him to 7 days’ police remand for further investigation.

It may be recalled that, on the basis of a compliant by RMDD, State Vigilance department detained the accused at Rongpo check post on August 9 when he was reportedly trying to cross the border “in the disguise of a labourer” and subsequently handed him over to CID.

RMD department became suspicious about the contractor after noticing discrepancies in his financial documents submitted with the tender and reported the matter to Vigilance. According to CID, the discrepancies are in regard to a Rs.25 lakh cheque of UCO Bank, Alipore Branch and TDR of Rs.1.5 crore from Allahabad Bank, Tollygunge, West Bengal.

SIKKIM CRIME WATCH: Fraud slur on park deal – Calcuttan arrested in Sikkim – a reflection of the Bengal culture ?!! big money, big crime, big punishment, conmen to pay big time ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, Aug 10: A Calcutta-based businessman who had bagged the contract to run the newly constructed amusement park here was arrested on cheating charges while trying to flee the state disguised as a labourer on Sunday.

Rajesh Jhunjhunwala, said to be a resident of New Alipore in Calcutta, was handed over to the crime branch yesterday after being apprehended by the vigilance wing at Rangpo on the Bengal border.

Jhunjhunwala, said to be the owner of Jhunjhunwala and Sons — a firm police said was non-existent — was arrested after the Rural Management and Development (RMD) department lodged a complaint against him. He has been charged under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code that deals with forgery and cheating. He was produced before the court today and remanded in police custody for seven days.

His so-called company had bagged the tender for running the Rs 55.6-crore Kanchenjunga Tourist Villa-cum-amusement park that was inaugurated on April 15 by President Pratibha Patil.

According to sources in the police and in the RMD, Jhunjhunwala had been camping in a Gangtok hotel since April impersonating as a wealthy businessman with a tea garden in the Dooars and the owner of the export firm.

In the first week of July he won the tender for the running of the park and the Sikkim government agreed to his annual payment of Rs 3.06 crore for a lease of 21 years. The lease amount would be increased by five per cent each year from the fourth year onwards.

“We came to know that the man was a fraud and his company a fake one only recently, when a cheque for Rs 1.7 crore submitted by him was rejected by a Calcutta bank. We noticed that there were many lacunae and loopholes in the bank statement of the company and immediately informed the crime branch and lodged a complaint,” said A.K. Ganeriwala, the state RMD secretary.

He said the state government had not paid any money to Jhunjhunwala and timely action had saved the state from a major loss.

“During preliminary interrogation, the arrested man told us that some chartered accountants in Calcutta were running a racket of supplying fake income-tax and bank documents. We have to contact the Calcutta police about this,” said an officer in the crime branch.

According to the police, Jhunjhunwala had also duped the owner of the hotel he had staying at by not paying the Rs 30,000 monthly bill since July, saying that the money was stuck in a “wire transfer”.

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