| Amarjit Chohan: Dubious links
London, May 11 (PTI): Scotland Yard believes the murder of Indian millionaire Amarjit Chohan and the disappearance of his family is linked to the booming trade in khat, a West African shrub that is a natural stimulant. It is trying to trace three gangsters including Kenneth Regan, who worked as a haulage driver for Chohan, for their role in the murder.
The body of 46-year Chohan was found in the sea near Bou-rnemouth Pier on April 22, but his wife, Nancy, 25, two sons and mother-in-law remain missing.
Detectives fear all may have been murdered and that Chohan was possibly involved in importing khat and smuggling it to the US. The illicit trade is worth more than £150 million a year.
Adding to the mystery is the way Chohan’s business began to boom soon after he was released from jail. At the time of Chohan’s disappearance, his haulage and vegetable-importing company, Ciba Freight, had an annual turnover of £4 million and 22 employees.
Some people believe Chohan’s success owed less to his hard work and business acumen than a set of contacts created when in jail. Detectives are keen to find out exactly whom he met when in jail.
Nancy’s brother, Onkar Verma, who last spoke to his sister from his house in New Zealand on February 15, said Nancy was very worried about her husband. She had been told Chohan had gone to Holland on a business trip but had not been seen at work since February 13.
Two days later, Nancy and her sons vanished, along with her mother, Charanjit Kaur, 51.
Detectives believe Chohan’s body was buried on land belonging to public relations executive Belinda Brewin before being dumped in the sea. According to a report in the Sunday Mail, Brewin had worked for Chohan and knew Regan, 54, one of the prime suspects in the murder.
Back in February, Regan dug a drainage ditch opposite Brewin’s 17th century farmhouse. It is now thought he was burying Chohan.
Brewin claims she was not aware of this and police say she is not a suspect. But Sunday Mail says that though Brewin is innocent, she is deeply entangled in the mess.
The PR executive came into contact with Regan — a drugs dealer with “serious” gangland connections — long before she started working with Chohan.
Brewin said: “I only knew Regan vaguely, through a friend. I only met him a couple of times.” But she admitted it was Regan, who she knew had a criminal past, who brought her to Chohan’s firm.
According to the tabloid, Regan was “sexually obsessed” with Brewin. The executive confirmed this to police.
Brewin denies tipping off police after seeing Regan’s picture being flashed on TV in connection with Chohan’s murder. “I didn’t tip off the police — they came to me before they announced Regan was the prime suspect. Forensic teams started digging a week before they told the media. The idea was that if they found nothing they wouldn’t have to say anything and I would be left alone,” she said.
But the police did find evidence that Chohan’s body, and perhaps that of his other family members, had been buried on the site. They are understood to have found clothing and jewellery, as well as evidence that a bonfire had been used to dispose of evidence.
Brewin had been worked for Chohan’s Ciba Freight as a consultant two days a week since January. She thinks it is in Chohan’s business dealings that the heart of the mystery lies.
One theory being advanced is Regan and his associates were using Ciba as a front for smuggling hard drugs into Britain from Mexico.
Chohan was “always averse” to trading in drugs and told Regan to stop. Once he did so, Regan and his gang “had no option but to dispose of Chohan and his family”.
Chohan was reportedly murdered in Bournemouth before being moved to Devon and back again, before being dumped in the sea. William Horncy, the Regan associate named as a suspect, hails from Bournemouth. Regan and Horncy, 51, are long-time partners in crime and both have reportedly fled to France. Police have named a third suspect - Peter Douglas Rees - believed to be in Britain.