NRI businessman arrested in 80-mn pound investment fraud


London : An NRI businessman, who allegedly masterminded 80-million-pound fraud investment operation, has been arrested for duping around 600 people, including celebrities like former England cricketer Darren Gough, actress Francis de la Tour and singer Jerome Flynn.

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Chelsea-based Indian entrepreneur Nandan Pruthi and his business partners Kenneth Peacock and John Anderson were arrested after a series of raids by London police, the Guardian reported Sunday.

An unnamed 1960s pop singer is also among the victims while England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has confirmed that he was approached by the suspected fraudsters but decided not to hand over any of his money to them, the newspaper said.

Pruthi and his business partners are believed to have recycled millions of pounds from new investors on to existing ones in order to maintain the illusion of a successful investment strategy generating huge returns. Much of the cash is thought to have been churned through accounts with HSBC.

Monthly payback rates of between eight and 13 percent were said to be available to those making investments with the trio.

Scores of seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals were among those duped by Pruthi, Peacock and Anderson, according to the newspaper. Some victims have been made bankrupt, lost homes or even attempted suicide, according to police.

Purthi’s assets have been frozen by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

His sports cars, jewellery and 250,000 pounds in cash are among assets police and the FSA have managed to recover from Pruthi and his colleagues, though their value is thought to be less than two million pounds.

There has been some speculation that money may have been salted away in Dubai, the Cayman Islands or Thailand.

An associate, Jacob Hessellund, managing director of Danish marketing software firm Encode, said he could not believe Pruthi was anything other than a shrewd investor. “Of course, I am surprised. And look forward to seeing where this story ends – to see if this really is a scam or not.”

Pruthi is a minority shareholder and board member at Encode, though the company is now looking to replace him as a director.

Others’ dealings with Pruthi have been less happy. Private jet and helicopter charter consultancy CCS, where Pruthi had made a small investment, went bust last month after the suspected fraudster failed to pay bills for numerous helicopter transfers and trips to France. The unpaid bills far exceeded the sum Pruthi had invested in the business.