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London businessman convicted in Kolkata

March 31, 2006 22:52 IST

A Kolkata court on Friday convicted a London-based businessman Rajender Sethia to three years of jail term for obtaining an Indian passport in a fake name after a 20-year trial.

The accused was booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation on March 12, 1985, after the agency recovered a passport from his possession, which had his photographs but was in the name of R K Dugar, a CBI spokesman said in New Delhi.

Sethia's accomplice Bhagat Ram Thapar was sentenced to six months jail for helping him commit the crime, the spokesman said.

He had been operating various businesses under the banner of ESAL group of companies in several countries including the UK, Nigeria and Hong Kong. During 1982-84, he allegedly cheated a number of banks in the UK including Punjab National Bank's London branch of $10 million and Central Bank of India in the UK of Rs 2.17 crore.

Sethia was apprehended in a Delhi hotel during March 1985 consequent to the registration of a regular case for cheating the banks. During subsequent raids, the CBI found the forged passport and registered a case for which the chargesheet was filed within a month.

The chargesheets in the bank cheating case against Sethia and his three accomplices were filed in 1985. In 1991, the accused secured a stay on the trial. However, Delhi High Court dismissed all the petitions filed by Sethia and others in February 2006 and ordered the resumption of trial.

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