The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday submitted 84 phone recording to help nail Sukesh Chandrashekhar, who has been in jail since 2017, in a swindling case that has rocked the nation.
Chandrashekhar allegedly conned Aditi Singh, the wife of jailed pharma giant Ranbaxy co-owner Shivinder Singh, of Rs 200 crore in ‘payments’ to obtain bail for her husband. Shivinder was arrested in 2019 on money-laundering charges.
Chandrashekhar allegedly led Aditi to believe that she was talking to top government officials on the subject of her husband’s bail, including the Home Secretary. When she discusses money that was paid without the promised results, talks were diverted to payment for a ‘party fund’. Their conversations were spread over 11 months.
Aditi was alerted by the ED in July 2021 and started recording the chats. The alleged extortion and cheating case ran a figure that added up to Rs 200 crores.
No government officer impersonated by Chandrashekhar has filed a police complaint. Since no part of the money was paid to a government official, there is no ‘bribe’ angle involved here.
However, the biggest mystery of the story is how a jailed criminal had access to a cell phone, and how he could have access to the numbers of some of the top officials in the government machinery and could supposedly impersonate anyone with such ease.
Among the officials Chandrashekhar had faked are Ajay Bhalla, the top bureaucrat in the Home Ministry; Anoop Kumar, the country’s Law Secretary; and as ‘Abhinav’, a junior Law Ministry officer, who was more forthright than the others in discussing the cash payments needed.
Aditi Singh seems to be just one of Chandrashekhar’s many ‘targets’. His over-the-top lifestyle in Chennai, with a seaside mansion and a fleet of 23 cars, including a Ferrari, a Bentley and a Rolls Royce, is well-known. Actor Jacqueline Fernandes has been linked to a money-laundering case against him and was recently stopped at the Mumbai airport from leaving the country.