Riyo & Serenity chargesheets: Is EOW betraying Bhagtani victims?

Mumbai, 4th October, 2018: Is the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police deliberately going easy on Bhagtanis? Are the forensic auditors and Forensic Science Laboratory going slow? Eyebrows must rise that EOW's chargesheets of Bhagtani Riyo and Serenityfiled in April and August, are against Diipesh Bhagtani, and not against JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd and its directors Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani. 
Regardless of whether it is proper or improper, omission from the chargesheet gives Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani extra time to continue living abroad and doing hera-pheri. As long as they are considered only suspects, and not chargesheeted offenders, they remain safe from Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, Interpol Red Corner Notices, deportation to India, police interrogation and judicial custody. 

Two things that EOW cops often tell victims: 

(a) They reportedly say that all Bhagtani bank accounts show zero balance. (This is a blanket statement made without authorization, and without any specific details.)

(b) They reportedly say that all cases are "moving towards settlement". (Another blanket statement without authorization, which suggests that EOW is facilitating the recent moves towards filing civil cases and signing consent terms.) The cops seem to imply that police investigation will be closed when the settlement happens. 

So people are feeling pressured to enter into a settlement for what is touted as the only remaining asset, i.e. the project land and/or its development rights. Irrespective whether the cops are saying such things intentionally, or simply as a smokescreen for deflecting victims' questions, it creates a psychological environment ripe for exploitation. Never mind that project land or development rights is imaginary, hyped-up or unsaleable assets, Bhagtanis and their association-wallahs are able to dangle them before victims like juicy bait, only because the cops uphold their story.  

What is strange in the two chargesheets?

1. The culprit is clearly JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd, but police only considers Diipesh Bhagtani as culprit in individual capacity. The Riyo and Serenity FIRs names as accused (i) JVPD Properties Private Limited (ii) Diipesh Bhagtani (iii) Mukesh Bhagtani (iv) Laxman Bhagtani, in that specific order. The police statements on which FIRs are based, say that booking amount cheques were made out in favour of "developer Messrs JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd", after the victims visited the project site and saw the company's hoardings there. The complaints are clear that the money changed hands with Diipesh, Mukesh and Laxman Bhagtani only in their capacities as company directors. At all times, Diipesh Bhagtani acted in his capacity as a director of JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd.  It is amazing that chargesheets are filed only against Diipesh Bhagtani in his individual capacity. JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd, Mukesh and Laxman are termed as "accused persons not chargesheeted (suspect)"!

 "Reasons for not chargesheeting" are (i) investigation is still ongoing (ii) one hard disk seized from the office has been referred to Forensic Science Laboratories, and the report has not yet been received. (iii) Account books and documents seized has been referred to the forensic auditor, and report is awaited. (iv) Bank account details of the accused are still awaited, for determining the conspiracy by the accused.

Regardless of whether such reasoning is sound or unsound, the effect of not chargesheeting the "corporate person" called JVPD Properties Pvt Ltd is that its directors Mukesh and Lakshman Bhagtani are roaming free. 

2. Only one hard disk has been sent to Forensic Science Laboratories for analysis! In an office with so many sales and CRM staff, there would surely have been at least half a dozen PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones, plus data storage media such as DVDs and pen-drives. It defies logic that the police could only lay their hands on one solitary hard-drive mentioned in the Riyo chargesheet. 

3. One year of SIT investigation can't nail down JVPD Properties! A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was set up in October 2017. There is an abundance of witnesses and evidence, as this economic crime was committed in broad daylight over several years, with the help of a dozen employees and bank managers. Even then, chargesheets say that SIT hasn't yet uncovered the paper trail! Is this believable?

BOTTOMLINE: It is crucial that Bhagtani companies are chargesheeted, so that Mukesh and Lakshman are nabbed, deported to India, interrogated and tried for this massive corporate crime. Till then, they will continue money-laundering and digesting the wealth of their 2500 victims while sitting abroad.

Krishnaraj Rao


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