He used a cell phone from prison and cheated on people posing as a government official, a minister’s assistant or even a Supreme Court judge. She collected the money, which was routed through hawala networks.
Together, they amassed a fortune and lived a fantastic life, flaunting a sea-view bungalow in Chennai, a fleet of cars and wildly extravagant interiors.
The interrogation of two Bollywood actors helped the Enforcement Directorate to uncover details of a massive crores-worth scam operated by Sukesh Chandrashekar, who has been imprisoned since 2017.
One of the actors is Sukesh Chandrashekar’s alleged partner-in-crime Leena Maria Paul, who starred in the 2013 film Madras Cafe. The other actor is the high-profile Jaqueline Fernandes, a friend of Leena Maria Paul’s and reportedly one of the victims of the couple.
According to sources in the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and the Delhi Police, more than 23 fraud cases are pending against them across the country.
The seaside bungalow that Chandrashekar and Leena Maria Paul lived in was also bought after the couple swindled Rs 40 crore from Aditi Singh, wife of ex-Fortis promoter Shivinder Singh. It was her complaint that exposed the latest scam.
The luxury home, filled with lavish furnishings and artwork, also featured a Mercedes Benz 300 SLR with 722 in the living room. The car was part of the famous Mille Miglia race of 1955.
The Enforcement Directorate has seized goods worth Rs 20 crore so far.
The catch includes shoes, bags and clothing from brands such as Ferragamo, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Versace. The couple also owned a Rolls Royce Ghost, a Bentley Bentayga, a Ferrari 456 Italia, a Lamborghini Urus, an Escalade and a Mercedes AMG 63.
Chandrashekar is said to have used advanced spoofing technology with sophisticated devices to its disadvantages. Agencies suspect the money went through Leena’s family in Dubai.
Chandrashekar was 17 when he was first arrested, in 2005. He allegedly cheated on a couple from Bengaluru for an amount of Rs 1.14 crore after posing as a friend of the son of former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy .
In 2013, he and Leena Maria Paul were arrested for fraud worth Rs 19 crore in Chennai involving Canara Bank.
Four years later, Chandrashekar was arrested by the Delhi police on charges of bribery.
Posing as secretary of the law, he reportedly signed a 50 crore deal with former AIADMK chief VK Sasikala’s cousin, TTV Dhinakaran, and promised to be awarded the “Two Leaves” symbol to his faction. He received Rs 2 crore as the first installment just before his arrest.
He was also charged with impersonating a Supreme Court judge and “directing” the judge who led the bribery case with the Two Leaves symbol to release him on bail. He called just before the bail hearing.
He was arrested in Delhi with Rs 1.3 crore cash and high-end cars.
He was charged again after the Income Tax report showed him shopping and closing business deals at a mall in Bengaluru while in Delhi police custody. Chandrasekar had allegedly bribed police officers to let him go while he was in Bengaluru for a court hearing.
He was charged again last year by the CBI for allegedly impersonating the agency’s director and extorting money from TDP MP Sambasiva Rao, who is an accused in a Rs 6,000 crore bank fraud case.
During the investigation, the CBI learned that Chandrashekar had once again defrauded Sasikara’s family after posing as a Supreme Court judge to ensure her speedy release from a prison in Bengaluru.
This month, Delhi Police indicted Chandrasekar and Leena Maria Paul over the complaints of former Fortis Healthcare promoters Shivinder and Malvinder Singh’s wives. Chandrasekar posed as assistants to the Union Home Affairs Minister and the Justice Minister and is alleged to have duped the family of more than Rs 40 crore.
It is this complaint that led investigators to Leena Maria Paul. She is in custody, but has not yet been arrested.
Sources say Jaqueline Fernandes, who was questioned as a witness yesterday, was brought face to face with Leena.
While the Enforcement Directorate is tasked with recovering the money that runs into the hundreds of crores, the Delhi police are working on a watertight case to secure a conviction – its first in 16 years.
Sources said the CBI wrote to Delhi police on the phones seized by Chandrashekar in prison to try to decipher the technology he was using; he always managed to have a senior government official’s number on the recipient’s phone screen while cheating people.