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Aap Kaa Surroor producer jailed for 7 years

By Ayoti Mittra in New York
Last updated on: February 10, 2009 17:24 IST
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US-based mortgage broker and Bollywood impresario Vijay Taneja has been sentenced to 84 months in jail followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $33 million in restitution to four financial organisations, on charges of money laundering.

The four banks are Franklin Bank, First Tennessee Bank, Wells Fargo Bank and EMC Mortgage Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of JP Morgan Chase and Co. Taneja was found guilty of defrauding the banks to the tune of $33 million and of cheating immigrants with fake home loans.

'I'm very sorry about my conduct and the embarrassment to my family,' Taneja, 48, told the US federal court in Alexandria at his sentencing January 30. 'I fully accept my responsibilities, and I am really very sorry.'

Taneja, under the banner of Elite Entertainment, has been promoting Bollywood celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai for shows across the United States. Federal prosecutors revealed that Taneja had been defrauding home owners and using some of that money to fund shows and movies he has produced like the Himesh Reshammiya-starrer Aap Kaa Surroor.

Prosecutors described it as one of the largest mortgage fraud cases in at least two decades, while laying out proof that Taneja took out home loans in the names of various immigrants, mostly Indian Americans, under the banner of his company, Financial Mortgage Inc. Court documents state that Taneja took out bogus mortgages along with genuine ones.

Taneja parlayed some of that money into the purchase of an enormous house, which was auctioned last year for $3.9 million as part of ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. He filed for bankruptcy last June when he was $77 million in debt.

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Ayoti Mittra in New York