16 luxury cars, beach bungalow and a Rs 200 cr scam: All about India's relentless conman

A resort-like bungalow, 16 luxury cars, Versace rugs: the ED has seized properties of Sukesh Chandrashekhar, an alleged conman arrested in the 2017 EC bribery case, and now accused of a Rs 200 crore scam.
File image of Sukesh Chandrashekhar, arrested by Delhi Police in 2017 Election Commission bribery case
File image of Sukesh Chandrashekhar, arrested by Delhi Police in 2017 Election Commission bribery case
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A sea-facing luxurious bungalow, 16 luxury cars, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Dior bags, Versace rugs — the Enforcement Directorate has swooped down on the properties of one of India’s richest conmen, Sukesh Chandrashekhar, accused of carrying out a Rs 200 crore scam from inside a Delhi jail. Sukesh has been lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail for a case of criminal conspiracy and cheating, but that has not stopped him from amassing a fortune by conning people. 

Sukesh Chandrashekhar is a known conman. He has multiple cases against him, following the same modus operandi — pretend to be someone connected to a politician or an influential personality, sweet-talk them, and then finally con them of lakhs and crores. He was only 17 when he was first arrested by the Bengaluru police in 2005, for duping a family of Rs 1.14 crore by pretending to be a friend of former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s son. 

After 2007, he shifted base to multiple neighbouring states — Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. He rented out a sprawling apartment in Hyderabad’s Jubilee Hills, and spent Rs 25 lakh on renting luxury cars. 

Through the years, he pretended to be a relative of various politicians and other celebrities — from posing as the grandson of M Karunanidhi, to an aide of former Karnataka minister Karunakara Reddy and even the secretary of BS Yediyurappa. 

But it was in 2017 that Sukesh was arrested in a big case that grabbed national attention. In April 2017, Sukesh was arrested over allegations that he took money from former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran to bribe Election Commission officials over the party’s 'two leaves' poll symbol. Chandrasekhar was accused of striking a deal for Rs 50 crore to help the AIADMK faction led by Dhinakaran keep the 'two leaves' symbol. An amount of Rs 1.3 crore was allegedly seized from his possession at the time of his arrest. Sukesh was arrested and sent to Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

However, his criminal activity did not stop there. According to reports, Sukesh continued to con people from jail and the Times of India reports that he may have carried out a Rs 200 crore extortion scam from jail, the highest amount ever extorted by a jailed accused. This fresh case was registered by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police under charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, extortion of money to the tune of approximately Rs 200 crore. On August 7, Aditi Singh, the wife of former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh, claimed that she received a call in June last year from a man posing as a senior official of the Law Ministry who offered to help her secure bail for her husband, who was in jail at the time, in return for money. According to police, Sukesh was the one who made the call to Aditi, and he was arrested in August.

The Enforcement Directorate earlier this week swooped down on Sukesh’s properties in Chennai. The ED was roped in for investigating money laundering charges, and during investigation, searches were conducted at the premises of middlemen, bankers and associates connected to Sukesh. “During search at the residential premises of the Vice President of RBL Bank, Indian currency to the tune of Rs 82.5 lakh and 24 carat gold bar weighing approximately 2 kg have been seized,” the Enforcement Directorate said in a statement.

Despite being lodged in jail, the Enforcement Directorate said, Sukesh Chandrashekhar did not stop conning people. The ED said that Sukesh used technology and made spoof calls to people. “He claimed to be a government officer offering to help people for a price, of course. In this case also, Sukesh Chandrasekhar extorted money to the tune of Rs 200 crore by impersonating senior government officials,” the ED said.

The ED said that during investigation, it was found that Sukesh and his wife Leena Maria Paul had been leading a “lavish life in a bungalow in Chennai which is no less than a resort. The house is a luxurious sea facing bungalow with home theatre and a fleet of cars and servants,” the ED said. The rugs in the house are Versace, with Italian marble floors, dining table and expensive furniture, the ED said, adding that now, these properties have been seized. 

Sixteen high-end luxury cars, including Rolls Royce Ghost, Bentley Bentayga, Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Urus, Escalade, Mercedes AMG 63 etc, have also been seized from his Chennai bungalow.

Searches were also conducted at the residence and business premises of Leena, who has acted in Malayalam films and has played small roles in Hindi movies like Madras Café. “Leena Maria Paul loves luxury like her partner Sukesh and there are numerous shoes, shades, bags and clothes. The shoes are Ferragamo, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton and bags of the same brands, including Hermes,” the ED statement said. Further investigation is under progress, the ED added. 

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