Mumbai Local

Man wanted in US for million-dollar fraud held in Mumbai

A United States (US) national of Indian origin, who was allegedly on the run since 2010 after the California government launched a probe against him in a multi-million dollar scam, has been arrested in Mumbai. The Extradition Cell of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch is currently working on the process to deport him to the US.

According to police officials, the accused, identified as Salim Karimi (50), was under the scanner for allegedly defrauding the city of Los Angeles to the tune of millions of dollars through an overbilling scam, in which he submitted fraudulent bills for affordable housing projects.

“The US had issued a Red Corner notice against Karimi in 2015. On December 26, he was detained by the immigration authorities at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport while trying to board a flight to Mexico, and was handed over to the Sahar police.

The Extradition Cell subsequently took him into custody, and he has been remanded to judicial custody,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni.

Mr Kulkarni said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is the nodal agency for all international interactions, has been contacted, and is in touch with the US administration concerning his deportation.

Mumbai Police officials said that according to their investigations so far, Karimi and several others operated an overbilling scheme to defraud municipal bodies in LA, submitting forged invoices to municipal bodies and banks and getting millions of dollars more than what they were entitled to.

This money was then siphoned off to Indian banks by Karimi and his accomplices, said officials.

“Karimi fled from the US in 2010 after the government launched a probe against him, and was staying in Colaba since then,” Mr Kulkarni said.

A 2014 report by the Los Angeles Times states that around 30 lawsuits have been filed against the firm Advanced Development and Investments (ADI), of which Karimi was the president. The ADI had reportedly submitted fraudulent bills for affordable housing projects, failed to keep proper records of more than $650 million that flowed through its checking accounts and transferred as much as $80 million to personal accounts — at least one in India — according to a court-appointed receiver's report on the company's activities.

The receiver, David Pasternak had further said in his report that ADI had “virtually no financial records”, no general ledger, no balance sheet and no bank reconciliations, the LA Times reported.

An earlier report by the LA Times states that ADI came under the scanner in 2010, after indications of gross misconduct came to light during the divorce proceedings between Karimi and his wife Jannki Mithaiwala, daughter of Ajit Mithaiwala, who was the founder of the firm.

The CBI will soon be applying for a production warrant in Karimi’s name, after which he will be produced in the Patiala House court in Delhi, where matters of extradition and deportation are decided, said Mumbai Police officials.

This is the second case in recent times of an accused wanted abroad being arrested in India. In September 2014, the Mumbai Police had arrested Ritesh Singhvi, a Mumbai native who was wanted in connection with the murder of well known interior designer Wendy Albano in her hotel room in Bangkok, who was found stabbed and strangled in her hotel room in Sukhumvit in February 2013.

Singhvi was tracked down to Gangakhed in Parbhani district and arrested by the police.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 1:25:32 PM |

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