Monday, May 13, 2013

330cr con probe: Central agencies to be roped in

Mumbai: The crime branch of Mumbai police will seek assistance from central government agencies in an investigation into a complaint by HSBC in respect of a Rs 330 crore fraud by a city-based company.

HSBC has alleged that Mumbai-based Avitel Post-Studioz Ltd, with its sister companies in Dubai and Mauritius respectively, made a false representation that it had won a contract from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) to upgrade the broadcaster’s library from 2D to 3D format.

HSBC said the company raised funds on the pretext of purchasing required equipment to fulfill the contract. A police officer said that HSBC accused the company of misleading it at every stage. The fraud included arranging a meeting of HSBC’s official with a conman in London posing as a BBC representative. Following the investment, HSBC discovered that no contract was awarded by BBC to Avitel. All the documents were found to be forged.

A crime branch officer said, “The fraud money transaction investigation involves overseas countries and we are planning to ask central government agencies for their assistance.” He added that there is a likelihood of foreign nationals being involved and the police was ascertaining their role.

Avitel has its offices at Mahim and at JVPD in Vile Parle (W). On Wednesday, both the offices were open but the employees refused to comment on the issue, saying they were not authorized to do so. Although employees said that a spokesperson would provide the company’s version, no statement was forthcoming until late Wednesday. HSBC, too, refused to comment over the issue.

The private equity arm of HSBC had made public its investment in Avitel in June 2011.
Vijay V Singh TNN

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