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‘Multimillionaire’ Sukesh Chandrashekhar is among the latest high-profile conmen to emerge from India. Chandrashekhar, who reportedly started duping people at a young age, has conned film stars, businessmen, and even politicians showing off his alleged influence in the higher echelons of power. To top it all, some of his high profile operations were conducted while he was serving term in Tihar Jail, one of India's top security prisons.
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According to a recent charge sheet of the Enforcement Directorate, (ED) India’s top agency probing financial crimes, Chandrashekhar is involved in 21 cases. He has cheated several VIPs in India by introducing himself as an influential relative of a high-profile politician or a bureaucrat. From childhood, Chandrasekhar had developed an affinity for a luxurious life and he pursued criminal activities to meet his objectives. Let us take a look at some of his alleged exploits.
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LATEST CASE: In December 2021, the Delhi Police filed a charge sheet against Chandrasekhar, his wife Leena Maria Paul, and 12 others for duping the wife of Malvinder Mohan Singh, the former promoter of Ranbaxy,one of India’s top pharmaceutical companies. Two months prior to that, the police had invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Chandrasekhar and 10 other people. In August, the agency raided some of Chandrashekhar’s premises and seized a sea-facing bungalow in Chennai, Rs8.25 million in cash and over a dozen luxury cars.
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JACQUELINE CONNECTION: Charge sheet filed by the (ED) shows how Chandrashekhar snared Bollywood actress Jecqueline Fernandes. He had made ‘spoofed’ calls replicating the office number of Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India to befriend the actor. Chandrashekhar made the call from Rohini Jail in Delhi. He allegedly ran an extortion racket using phone spoofing technology.
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According to Jecqueline, Chandrasekhar introduced himself to her as “Shekhaar Ratna Vela, the owner of Sun TV along with his family”. He also said he was from the political family of Jayalalithaa. Her makeup artist got a call from the office of Amit Shah and he was asked to get in touch with Shekhaar. The makeup artist then shared Chandrashekhar’s mobile number with Jacqueline and they got in touch. Several intimate pictures of Jacqueline and Chandrasekar surfaced on the internet in the midst of the investigation. In December 2021, Jacqueline was stopped from boarding a flight from Mumbai airport after the ED issued a lookout circular for her. She was then summoned to Delhi, where she appeared before the ED.
Image Credit: Twitter
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LUXURIOUS GIFTS: Some of the expensive gifts Chandrasekhar lavished on Jacqueline included Gucci outfits for gym wear, Gucci shoes, Rolex watch, 15 pairs of earrings, 5 Birkin bags, Hermes bangles, and LV bags. He also gave a mini chopper to Jacqueline that she later returned. A BMW car was gifted to Geraldine Fernandez, the sister of Jacqueline who is living in the US. He also gave around $1,80,000 and a Porsche car to Jacqueline’s mother.
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Another actress who seems to have fallen in Chandrasekhar's trap is Nora Fatehi. ED says Chandrasekhar had gifted a BMW car to actress her and later gave her Rs7.5 million, besides other expensive gifts. Apart from Jacqueline and Nora, the ED has a list of five Bollywood actresses who had links with Chandrashekhar.
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LAVISH LIFE IN JAIL: Though he was inside the jail, Chandrasekhar found it easy to operate his extortion racquet by using the phones of the jail staff in Tihar. He collected details of government advertisements and tenders about several mega projects and used the information for extorting money from businessmen. Chandrasekhar, who used spoofing technology via apps to cheat the businessmen, also led a luxurious life inside the jail. He reportedly used a barrack, meant to be shared with dozens of other inmates, alone. He allegedly gave Rs6-7.5 million per fortnight as a bribe for using the mobile phone. The investigators also found that Chandrasekhar used a SIM card from a foreign country from the jail. He used to invest extortion money in cryptocurrency.
Image Credit: Screenshot of CCTV footage circulating on social media
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HOW IT ALL STARTED? Chandrashekhar, who has been slapped with around 20 cases, is accused of running an extortion racket worth Rs2 billion (approximately Dh98.35 million) from the Tihar jail. Some of his earlier cases include a Rs750 million (Dh36million) cheating case. Chandrasekhar, posing himself as a relative of a politician, allegedly duped more than 100 people by promising them jobs. Police arrested him along with his girlfriend Leena Maria Paul in 2011 for cheating a Chennai-based bank. Chandrasekhar, believed to be in his early thirties, was born in a lower-middle-class family in Bengaluru. His father was a rubber contractor, part-time mechanic and automobile spare part serviceman. Chandrasekhar was not keen on his studies and was dropped out of school after Class 10. The aim of Chandrasekhar was to make money somehow and he reportedly started conning people from the age of 17.
Image Credit: ANI
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DRIVING LICENCE: Even before he was 18 and eligible for a driving licence, police say, he had forged the signature of the then police commissioner to create a letter declaring that he is allowed to drive cars and bikes "full throttle" anywhere in Karnataka, according to an Indian Express report in 2013.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
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FIRST ARREST: In August 2007, the Bangalore police arrested Chandrasekhar when he was just 17 for cheating a 76-year-old family friend to the tune of Rs11.4 million (Dh560,445) by claiming that he was a close friend of the son of then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy. After he was released, Chandrasekar shifted base to Chennai and expanded his operations to the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
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OTHER CASES: Cheating dozens In Tamil Nadu - Bangalore police arrested Chandrashekar in April 2011 for cheating dozens of businessmen in Tamil Nadu by promising them government contracts in the state of Karnataka. He allegedly posed himself as a secretary in the office of then Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa.
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EMMANUEL SILKS: Chandrashekar allegedly duped Emmanuel Silks in Kerala to the tune of Rs20 lakh (approximately Dh98,342) by promising them to bring in Bollywood actor Katrina Kaif for a promotional programme. Instead of Kaif, he brought Telugu superstar Allu Arjun to the company’s event in Kottayam. He however fled from Kerala following a complaint in 2012.
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LION DATES: According to a complaint by P Ponnudorai, managing director of Lion Dates in Karnataka, in 2012, he received a call from a person identifying himself as IAS officer Jayakumar (joint secretary to Karnataka chief minister). As per the call, the government was looking to purchase dates for one year. It was a contract worth Rs70 million (approximately Dh3.44 million) and Lion Dates remitted Rs80,000. The official then asked for another payment of Rs 2.5 lakh (approximately Dh12,290), but there was no response when more details were sought. On realising they had been duped, the company went to the police and filed a case against him in 2013.
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ACTRESS TO FRAUDSTER: Leena Maria Paul, who worked as a dentist in Bengaluru, had the passion to become an actress one day. She eventually became a successful actress when she bagged roles in movies such as Red Chillies, Madras Cafe, Cobra, Husbands in Goa and Biriyani. Unfortunately, she garnered more notoriety for her alleged involvement in several fraud cases in the company of Chandrasekar. They started dating in 2010 and Leena believed that Chandrasekar was from a political family. However, Chandrasekar was arrested one year later reportedly due to the information provided to the police by Leena. The actress was of the view that the conman had cheated her as well.
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However, the couple patched up when Chandrasekhar was released on bail. Later, both of them were arrested in 2013 for their alleged involvement in a cheating case of Rs190 million (Dh9.34million) involving a Chennai bank. After securing bail, the couple shifted their base to Mumbai but was again arrested in 2015 in a fake investment firm case. Leena hogged the limelight again when underworld don Ravi Poojari’s team attacked her beauty parlour in Kochi, Kerala. She was arrested in September 2021 for her involvement in a Rs2 billion- extortion racket case involving Chandrasekhar. According to the ED charge sheet, Leena Maria Paul is a master con woman and strategist and the brain behind the schemes "devised to launder the proceeds of the crime".
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KEY ALLY: According to Pinky Irani, an aide of Chandrasekhar, she received a lot of money from him for introducing Jacqueline. Irani, who was also arrested recently, was instrumental in selecting luxury gifts for Jacqueline. The ED reportedly found incriminating documents against Pinky in connection with the Rs200 crore case. The ED had provided five-star facilities to Pinky while she was in their custody in connection with the case.
Image Credit: iStockphoto
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MORE BOLLYWOOD CONNECTIONS: During ED’s interrogation, Chandrasekhar reportedly disclosed that he knew Sharadha Kapoor since 2015 and helped her in the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) case. The Aashiqui 2 actress was questioned by NCB when her name has emerged during Sushant Singh Rajput death case investigation.
Image Credit: IANS
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SHILPA LINK: Chandrashekhar's disclosure statement also mentioned that he also contacted actor Shilpa Shetty for husband Raj Kundra's conditional release. Raj Kundra was released on bail in September 2021, after he was accused of producing pornographic content for an app.
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