The 37-year-old BBA graduate and mastermind in the case, Abhishek Joshi, had not only allegedly met the president of Sri Lanka in Goa, he was also in touch with top administrative officers of the island nation to start financial institutions.
During the investigation, the SOG team also found that he was planning similar frauds in the neighbouring country after starting the bank.
On Wednesday, the SOG unearthed the embezzlement of nearly Rs 16 crore and illegal money exchange of Rs 1.38 crore by cooperative bank officials, and arrested five ,persons including the CEO, former chairman, present chairman and the mastermind of the fraud.
Abhishek is seen as the kingpin in planning and executing the whole embezzlement.
Joshi is a BBA graduate and fluent in English. While investigating the case, the sleuths of SOG were stunned when they recovered a photograph of Abhishek with Maithripala Sirisena, the Sri Lankan president.
"We found that the accused Abhishek had visited Sri Lanka and had explored possibilities to start a bank in any of the states in the island nation. We have also recovered a photograph of the accused with the Sri Lankan president. He was in touch with some top-ranked administrative officers of a few states in the neighbouring country," said a senior officer of the SOG on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.
Asked about the interest of the accused in Sri Lanka, Dinesh M N, inspector general of police, said, "All I can say is that we are investigating and looking into every angle in this case. Various things that we have recovered need to be verified."
A senior officer close to investigations, said, "He was expected to meet Surendra Gunaratney, who is an adviser to the government of Sri Lanka on international affairs, and also a chief secretary rank officer to discuss investment possibilities on Wednesday. During his interrogation, Abhishek had also confessed to planning to start a bank in Sri Lanka. Thus, there could be a possibility that the Rs 16 crore, which he had embezzled with his family, was to be invested in Sri Lanka."
TOI has also come to know that Surendra, who is in Delhi, had even called up a senior officer of SOG on Wednesday to enquire about the whole racket. Sources further said that SOG officials had also told the Sri Lankan bureaucrat that the accused has been nabbed before he could execute his plan in their country. "So far, we could make out a case of embezzling Rs 16 crore. The quantum of fraud could be much bigger than what has come out so far," said an officer.
Sleuths further stated that Abhishek had hired 12 personal bodyguards and used their services whenever he visited Alwar. "Prior to the seizure of Rs 1.32 crore, Abhishek's lifestyle was the talk of the town in Alwar. He used to travel in a gold-plated SUV," the officer added.
(Ashish Mehta | TNN -timesofindia.indiatimes.com)