Mumbai: Ace car-designer Dilip Chhabria, who was arrested late on Monday night is allegedly connected with a car finance and fake registration racket involving his self-designed ultra-highend luxury vehicles, Mumbai Police said on Tuesday.
The high-profile arrest by Mumbai Police Crime Branch came after a tip-off that a two-seater sports car 'DC-Avanti', designed by Chhabria, and allegedly bearing a fake registration number, was expected to reach the Hotel Trident at Nariman Point on December 17.
However, since the vehicle didn't turn up there that evening, a Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU), led by Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze laid a trap near the Hotel Taj Mahal in Colaba the following night, when it turned up and was intercepted.
Upon interrogation, the car owner, identified Indermal Ramani, produced the ownership documents of the vehicle as registered with Chennai RTO, and these were found to be genuine.
While the car was seized, upon further investigations the police learnt that another car with the same engine and chassis number was registered in Haryana also, said the Mumbai Police.
Deeper probe revealed that Chhabria's company, Dilip Chhabria Designs Pvt. Ltd. (DCDPL) had produced 120 DC-Avantis - touted as India's first sports car - and sold to customers in India and abroad, and many of these vehicles maybe involved in the racket.
Moreover, the CIU sleuths detected that multiple loans, averaging to Rs 42 lakh per vehicle, were taken on around 90 such cars by DCDPL, posing as customers for their own manufactured vehicles.
Subsequently, these hypothecated cars were sold to other customers before or after availing the finance through the fraudulent means, and the exact quantum of loss to the government by way of unpaid taxes, customs duties, GST, etc. is being ascertained.
In this manner, the CIU suspects that the DCDPL - founded in 1993 and going bankrupt in 2018 - may have cheated many finance companies or NBFCs like BMC Financial Services.
Proclaimed as India's maiden indigenously-made sports car, DCDPL rolled out its first model in 2016, a year after securing approvals from the Automative Research Association of India (ARAI).
The company had courted controversy even before the inaugural sportscar was launched with cricketer Dinesh Karthik moving a consumer courts in Chennai, over the DCDPL's dealers defaulting on refunding the booking amount of Rs 500,000 for a car costing nearly Rs 35 lakh.
Following a complaint lodged against him 10 days ago, Chhabria was nabbed from his workshop in Andheri's MIDC, sending shockwaves in the country's automobiles and finance fraternity.
Not ruling out further arrests, the police are also checking if the tentacles of the sensational scam are spread in other states, the involvement of people from finance companies or NBFCs, etc.
Chhabria shot into limelight in the 1990s after he produced some eye-catching fancy masterpieces of private cars of various celebs and even vanity vans of Bollywood personalities besides some concept cars, luxury passenger buses, and even aircraft interiors to soon become a legend in the country's niche automobile-designing industry.
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