Shiv Raj Puri held for duping people at golf course in Gurugram

Gurugram Police on Friday arrested Shiv Raj Puri, the 40-year-old alleged mastermind behind a major banking fraud in 2010, from Dehradun for allegedly duping people of nearly ₹2 crore at a golf course in Sector 80.

He was declared a proclaimed offender in two cases and was carrying a reward of ₹50,000 on his arrest.

According to the police, Puri had shifted to Dehradun in March before the lockdown was imposed and had rented an apartment in Engineers Colony on a forged identity. He was paying a rent of ₹15,000 and had told landlord that he used to invest in stock exchange and had plans to offer tuitions classes. He had introduced himself under a fake name, Shiv Sareen, said the police.

Preet Pal Sangwan, assistant commissioner of police (crime), said that Puri was working as a golf trainer at Karma Lakeland on Delhi-Jaipur Expressway in Sector 80 and had duped several people of nearly ₹2 crore before fleeing the place. “During investigation, it was revealed that the suspect booked for fraud was a history-sheeter and was identified as Shiv Raj Puri. He had forged identity documents to take up the job and was training people in golf under the name of Dr. Shiv Ahluwalia,a professional golfer. He is a good golfer and had some tournament certificates to his name as well,” he said.

The police said after registering a case under section 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 420 (fraud) of the Indian Penal Code on June 26 at Kherki Daula police station, they started investigating.

KK Rao, commissioner of police in October, formed a special investigation team under the leadership of Sangwan and assigned the task for Puri’s arrest to the Sikanderpur crime unit led by inspector Ajay Dhankhar.

Rao said they roped in the cyber crime team to track his movement and his call detail records were scanned. He was traced based on human and technical intelligence and surveillance. “The teams had camped in Dehradun for four days before arresting Puri. He was living a luxurious life and was earning nearly ₹2 lakh a month from stock market. He had plans to dupe more people but was arrested,” he said.

Ajay Dhankhar, inspector, said that Puri was living in South City-1 prior moving to Dehradun. He was changing locations to evade arrest. He had also changed more than 20 mobile numbers in the last one year, he said.

Sangwan said Puri was produced before the court on Saturday and was sent to 14-day judicial custody. “We will take him on production remand in the two cases and will recover the amount duped,” he said.

The police added that the enforcement directorate is in process to attaching his properties and court proceedings were underway in Gurugram’s sessions court.

During investigation, it was further revealed that Puri used to work as a relationship manager at a private bank in DLF Phase 2 and was involved in ₹400-crore fraud case. He was suspended after the bank lodged a police complaint about suspicious transactions, forgery and criminal activities on December 5, 2010. Puri had duped nearly 30 investors and channelled the money to the stock market. Between December 5, when the police complaint was filed, and December 27, when Puri was arrested, the bank appointed one of the big four audit firms to conduct a forensic audit of all transactions related to wealth management, hired a top law firm for legal counsel, and even made Puri sign agreements with some of the clients, promising to return their money.

Sangwan said Puri had worked in the bank for seven years, starting in 2002. In his early 30s, he had started siphoning off money, which increased after 2009. “He used to send fake circulars to the customers purported to have been sent by the capital markets regulator, promising 2-3% returns per month. People fell prey and started investing. Many had also given him blank cheques to invest money,” he said.

A case of fraud was registered on December 27, 2010 after the bank complained against him. He was arrested on December 29 and was released on bail by the Punjab and Haryana high court on May 28, 2012, said the police.

Later on February 25, 2014, the trial court pronounced Puri guilty under various sections of the IPC and sentenced him to two years and six months in prison and a fine of ₹10,000. In another case, Puri was convicted and sentenced to two years and six months in jail, thereby taking the overall imprisonment to five years. However, since he did not appear for any of the hearings, the police declared him as a proclaimed offender. He was out on bail, when he got a job at Karma Lakeland as a golf trainer.

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