Friday, May 15, 2015

Film co heads floated bogus firms, made clerks `directors'

Probe In Rs 824-Cr Cheating Case Still On: EOW 


Mateen Hafeez

Mumbai: Investigations into the Rs 824 crore cheating case involving the directors of Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd, one of Bollywood's largest production and distribution firms, have revealed that the directors had floated five bogus firms and appointed their clerks and even a clerk's wife as directors of these bogus firms. As much as Rs 296 crore was deposited in these firms.

Last month, the city economic offences wing (EOW) arrested Dhilon Mehta (33), managing director of Ashtavinayak, and his father Harshad Mehta (57). Eight people have been arrested in the case so far. Ashtvinayak has produced Hindi movies like Jab We Met, Bol Bachchan, Gol Mal etc. The complainant, Tejpal Shah, told police the firm's directors raised funds for their business, cheated shareholders and siphoned off funds.Shah is a film distributor and possessed distribution rights of some Ashtvinayak films.

Police said the accused raised funds in India and abroad to make films. “It's a lengthy investigation and we are going in the right direction.Those found involved will be dealt with strictly ,“ said Dhananjay Kamalakar, joint commissioner, EOW .

“After raising money in India and abroad, the accused directors floated five fake companies and appointed their clerks, bamboo supplier, godown keeper, and a clerk's wife as director of these firms. The money was diverted into the firms. So far we have found Rs 60 crore was diverted to Suyujit Enterprizes, Rs 16 crore to Century Pictures, Rs 79 crore to E-Force India Ltd, Rs 95 crore to Armaan Enterprizes and Rs 45 crore to V K Entertainment. The employee-directors are all from Rajkot and Ahmedabad. Their statements have been recorded before the magistrate and will be used as evidence against the accused,“ said an officer. In their statements, the directors of the fake companies told cops they were paid between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 to sign the papers.

The accused had said the five firms had been financed to make films and even made agreements with these companies. Meanwhile, a subsidiary firm, Ashtvinayak Cine Vision FZE, was floated in Dubai. It did agreements with international firms for film production. FZE paid Rs 444 crore to the international firms for this purpose. The complainant, who was to receive Rs 41 crore from Ashtavinayak, got cheques. While cheques of Rs 5 crore were honoured, cheques amounting to Rs 36 crroe bounced. He approached the court and the Company Law Board after the firm refused to return his dues.The committee formed by the law board found the firm had raised funds through foreign equity convertible bonds. Inspector Prakash Bagal is probing the case.

The case was referred to the EOW and an FIR was registered in September 2014. “The firm claimed to have invested money in foreign films. However, no movie was completed or even started,“ the officer said.


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