BANGALORE, Jun 18: Joseph Chacko, a resident of Bangalore, who allegedly cheated about 100 Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) of Rs. 500 crore has been arrested by the city police in Kolkata. Chacko and three others were accused of luring NRIs from Bahrain and United Arab Emirates to make investments for construction of Crown Plaza International Hotel and Resorts. This resort was supposed to come up in Hennur. The investors were not only promised a seven-day stay in the hotel but also some share in the earnings for rooms and for resort.
The project was advertised in Gulf News, and Chacko claimed to be the proprietor of the Crown Plaza. As many as 150 NRIs invested, while 76 managed to get sale deeds. The investors later realised the cheating and filed a complaint with the then Chief Minister H.D. Kumarswamy in May 2007, which was forwarded to the city police.
Forty cases were registered in Hennur, Kothanur, Hoskote, Nandagudi and Sulebele police stations. The police arrested three persons and were searching for Chacko. The 11th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate has issued non-bailable warrants against Chacko in five cases.
The City’s Central Crime Branch police, who were searching for Chacko, were tipped off about his presence in a hotel in Chennai. As the police team reached the hotel they came to know that Chacko left for Kolkata by air. The team reached Kolkata and arrested Chacko on Wednesday. He was travelling along with a friend and two children, said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar.
The city police produced Chacko before a North 24-Paraganas magistrate court, which gave the necessary permission to take him to Bangalore. He is being brought to the city by a private aircraft.
Chacko, a PUC dropout, started as a painter and later went into the real estate business. He developed contacts with NRI investors and got finances for his residential projects, more so for the NRIs.
The police said Chacko was taking land from poor farmers with power of attorney assuring them of a good value for sale. But Chacko failed to pay farmers even after the sale. He moved to Kuwait in 1995 and got NRI status.
He exploited the NRIs, especially from Karnataka and Kerala, who wanted to settle down in Bangalore.
The police said Chacko was giving NRI’s an impression of fully developed townships and selling barren land in villages far away from the city. He had forged documents and sold government land as private layouts. One such layout was Elysium Township in Hennur, the police said.
Chacko had 12 projects in Bangalore East, Bangalore South, Bangalore North and Hoskote taluks of Bangalore. Some of the projects were on the same land. The NRIs found it hard to check the genuineness of the projects because of the absence of proper government agencies, the police said.
Chacko has been convicted by the Higher Civil Court of Kingdom of Bahrain in a case of cheating of Rs. 3.8 crore filed by M.T. Jose, an investor, in 2004, the police said.
Source: The Hindu