Rana diverted investors' money for benami deals; employees face public wrath

Praveen Rana
Praveen Rana

Thrissur: The police have obtained several details regarding the methods used by fraudster Praveen Rana, who is currently under arrest, to divert the money he collected as investments from the public. According to police officers, 22 acres of land was bought in Kannur and registered in the name of a close relative of Rana, who owned the Safe and Strong Business Consultants Pvt Ltd which has now collapsed.

“We are searching for evidence to prove that this land was purchased using the money of people who invested in Rana’s firm,” said a police officer investigating the case.

However, one among Rana’s accomplices told the police that only two acres of land was bought in Kannur. Meanwhile, the police have received information that large-scale investments were carried out in the name of this aide as well as three other accomplices of Rana and are investigating this aspect also.

Rana’s name was present among the board of directors of Fly High pubs at Western Mall in Pune and Seawoods Mall in Mumbai till a year ago. However, it disappeared a few months ago. “Apparently, foreseeing the collapse of the chit firm, Rana withdrew his shares in the pubs and other businesses and transferred it to some benamis,” said the police officer.

Another business from which Rana withdrew was a number of spa parlours under a company named I am Wellness. He is no longer a member of its board of directors.

Contradictory statements

After his arrest, Rana faced a long session of questioning by the police. However, his contradictory statements perplexed the police. To a question on where all the money he had swindled from investors had gone, Rana apparently gave a philosophical reply, “nothing belongs to us.”

The police are yet to learn the exact amount of money he had diverted and to whom he had transferred it.

Staff too cheated

Apart from investors, Rana cheated his employees also. “We trusted Rana and believed that Safe and Strong functioned as per rules. Rana also made us believe that the chit firm would soon be upgraded into a non-banking financial institution. We fell for the trap and canvassed large amounts of money from several people for the firm,” the employees told the police.

Rana also spread lies that he was financially very secure and offered huge interests, said the employees. “Now there are around a hundred employees of Rana’s firm who cannot face the public,” the staff informed the police.

“In fact, we are now facing the wrath of the public,” said former staff, including general manager Siju; area manager Vishnu Prasad; business development managers Naseema, Sreedevi Venugopal and Swara Roopa; branch manager Pratap and sales managers Sudheer, Binoy and Livn, in their statements to the police.

Chase across three states

When a police team arrived at a flat in Chilavannoor in Kochi after receiving a tip-off that Rana was present there, he gave them the slip. The police chase him, which led them to several places in three states.

From Kochi, Rana travelled to Angamaly in a car. The police formed two teams to follow him. Rana was soon located at Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and one police team rushed there. However, Rana had escaped to Bengaluru in Karnataka by the time the police reached there.

The police learnt that an aide of Rana lived in Bengaluru and arrived at his house. However, Rana had left. On interrogating Rana’s accomplice in Bengaluru, the police found that their target was hiding in a quarry in Tamil Nadu. Without delay, the police raced to Devarayapuram, situated between Coimbatore and Pollachi, and nabbed Rana.

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