Friday, November 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

2,000-cr stamp paper racket unearthed
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 31
A nationwide forged judicial stamp paper racket involving thousands of crores and spanning 17 states, including Punjab and Haryana, has been unearthed.

The racket had been thriving for the past 10 years. The states where it had been flourishing included Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, apart from Punjab and Haryana.

In view of the national, and possibly international, ramifications of the racket, the case may be transferred to the CBI, well-placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs told The Tribune here today.

The racketeers had managed to develop a large clientele, comprising at least 52 builders, 48 banks and 61 private limited companies. Organisations like Zee Telefilms, Glaxo India, Syndicate Bank, Union Bank, Canara Bank, United Western Bank and the State Bank of India were some of the well-known buyers who had purchased such fake judicial stamps, apparently unknowingly in the past.

The kingpin of the racket is Abdul Karim Telgi, who was arrested in Karnataka in November, 2001 when the lid was blown off the scandal in the state. Telgi is still in jail and operates through mobile phones and an elaborate system of couriers.

The seizure of fake stamp papers with a face value of more than Rs 2,000 crore in Pune, Mumbai and Thane, besides the seizure of similar material with a face value of Rs 20 lakh in Bongaon of West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district in June, 2002, shows that the arrested kingpin is still active. His network has caused enormous loss running into many crores to the government revenue.

The illegal wealth generated from this racket has been invested liberally by the Telgis in real estate as well as the film industry.

Though no direct evidence of underworld linkage has been established so far, the management of such monies would necessitate the use of “hawala” channels, at least for money laundering.

The headquarters of the network was Metro Exports, 56/58 Khanji Khetji Building, Mint Street, opposite GPO, Colaba, Mumbai. Badruddin of Bangalore was one of the main coordinators of the network.

The modus operandi was to approach financial institutions through the executives of the pseudo firms opened by the network at different places. It used to transact genuine documents initially. Once the business was regularised, the fake documents were mixed with the genuine ones in the ratio of 70:30 and later on, only fake documents were transacted.

All forged documents were printed in Mumbai in a hi-tech press under the supervision of a production manager (Dashrath Sawant) and a chief operation officer (Udai Sawant). Financing, marketing and distribution aspects were being taken care of by well-qualified individuals under the direction of Telgi himself or members of his family.

The quality of seized fake stamps is of a very high order. Some of the printing machines used for running this racket are reported to have been purchased by Telgi through a contact from Security Printing Press, Nasik.

The quality of production and the sophistication with which the racket was being run creates a serious doubt about connivance of such people who have had expertise in this field. The Andhra Pradesh police also arrested seven persons involved in the racket on October 6, 2002. The stamp papers were of different denominations and types and had a face value of more than Rs 3.96 crore. All arrested persons admitted that they were working for Telgi.

Some of Telgi’s men, like Abdul Waheed, Sadashiv and Sachin have been arrested in Hyderabad while Hameed in Mumbai and Sohail in Chandigarh have also been picked up by the police.

A Tata Safari with fake share transfer stamps, insurance stamps, postage stamps and revenue stamps of a face value of more than Rs 2.30 crore was intercepted by the Chandigarh police on July 28, 2002. Gopinath Nair, who was one of the four occupants who were arrested, told the police, that he was instructed by Telgi to shift the consignment to New Delhi.

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