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Madras Cafe actress Leena Maria Paul arrested in Rs 200-cr extortion case

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Mumbai: The Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police has arrested ‘Madras Cafe’ fame actress Leena Maria Paul on Sunday for allegedly helping her boyfriend Sukesh Chandrasekhar, an accused in 21 cases, in extorting Rs 200 crore from a well known businessman’s wife. The police have invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against the accused.

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An FIR was registered on August 7 after former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh’s wife Aditi Singh told the police that a man posing as an official of the Law Ministry offered to help her secure bail for her husband, who was in jail at that time, in return for money. Shivinder was held in a money laundering case related to “misappropriation” of funds in 2019.

Paul’s boyfriend, Sukesh Chandrasekhar, was recently arrested from jail along with seven others, including a bank manager, for their alleged involvement in the extortion case. While Chandrasekhar was booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, his associates, including Paul, have been made the co-accused.

On August 10, was the first to report the biggest-ever extortion case uncovered in Delhi in terms of the amount of money and that the ED had started a parallel probe.

On August 23, ED had seized 16 high-end cars, a luxurious beachfront bungalow in Chennai, Rs 82.5 lakh in cash and 2kg of gold in the money laundering case involving conman Chandrasekhar. The seizures were made after Paul’s questioning

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Police suspected that she knew about a chunk of the extorted and laundered money. The ED had registered the money laundering case based on police’s investigation. Chandrasekhar would be taken into custody by ED after police’s remand ends. Two of his associates, Deepak and Pradeep, and two jail officials were also arrested.

Earlier, EOW had arrested Komal Poddar, the manager of RBL Bank, Connaught Place branch, and two of his associates, Avinash Kumar and Jitender Narula, on charges of allegedly facilitating and laundering money for Chandrasekhar. “The accused were involved in dubious transactions for circulation of funds and arrangement of cash,” EOW had said.

Chandrasekhar was using number spoofing through an app called “Crazy Call” to impersonate high-ranking government officials. He would call to strike deals and the victims would see the numbers on their phone screens as desired by him. In one of the last calls to a victim, he had impersonated the law secretary, a source said.

In her complaint, the victim said she received a call in June 2020 wherein the caller introduced himself as a secretary in the Union ministry of law. He proposed to help her in securing bail for her husband. This person demanded Rs 200 crore for getting the work done and conveyed the modalities regarding delivery of the money. The money was routed to Hong Kong-based entities, some shell firms, apart from properties allegedly bought by Paul. When the victim realised she had been duped, she contacted police and lodged a complaint.

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