New Delhi, Dec. 31: Niranjan Shah, one of the prime accused in the 1990s securities scam, is in the dock again after the Central Bureau of Investigation booked him for procuring a passport in a fake name.
Shah was an associate of Harshad Mehta, the broker instrumental in rigging the stock markets on a massive scale. Mehta has since died.
The Enforcement Directorate had registered cases against Mehta, Shah and others for violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (Fera) in March 1998.
They had allegedly purchased shares worth more than Rs 10 million from the Bombay Stock Exchange. And $400,000, a part of the money used to buy the shares, had come through hawala channels, the directorate had alleged.
According to CBI officials, Shah obtained a passport (No. A 5915382) from the Patna regional passport office under the alias Mohan Sahu in July 1998. He has been booked under the Passport Act.
Among the forged documents Shah submitted to the passport office was a photocopy of a ration card, which he got on the basis of an affidavit claiming he was Mohan Sahu.
In the affidavit, he gave his address as “Ujiyar Tola, district Ara, Bihar”. But the photograph submitted was his own, sources said.
Shah got the passport by bribing a local tout, who got things done within a month, a senior CBI officer said. He applied in June, 1998, and got the passport in July. The CBI has filed the case as Shah’s name had allegedly cropped up during the interrogation of an underworld don.
Shah lives in Vandana Apartment, Juhu, Mumbai. He had a genuine passport (No. A 6680182) issued in 1993 by the regional passport office in Mumbai. The passport expired in early 1998 and was renewed on November 16 the same year.
Interestingly, Shah went in for a fake passport after his genuine travel document was seized by a Mumbai court, hearing the security scam cases, to stop him from going abroad.
Immediately after getting the passport, he went to Abu Dhabi and likely to Canada as well, the CBI officials alleged. After his return to India, he destroyed the passport, raising suspicions over his foreign sojourn.
The CBI officials suspect a larger design behind the fake passport episode. The places he visited abroad, especially Abu Dhabi, are the hub of narcotic activities. All possible leads are being investigated to unravel the conspiracy, a CBI officer said.