Mumbai Police Crime Branch has arrested 18 people after a complaint of cheating and forgery was filed by senior editor of The Times of India, Derick D’sa, who has accused his personal assistant Amit Mayekar of making fraudulent payments to the tune of Rs. 15 crore over five years. In a complaint, D’sa explains that how the crime happened over past five years under his nose, but he became aware of it only now when the auditors spotted it. D’sa has said that he signed over 1,000 ‘fake vouchers’ ostensibly in the names of freelancers and contributors which never wrote a single column for the publication in last five years. The matter only came to light last week as according to D’sa, he never bothered to check where he is signing.
According to reports, the police said D’sa’s personal assistant, Amit Mayekar, who was responsible for issuing payments to freelance journalists who contributed to the newspaper, allegedly created a bogus domain and got the complainant to “sign invoices which were prepared in the name of people who never contributed to the edition”. D’Sa has said that since this was a routine procedure, he trusted Mayekar. The police further said that those arrested are either Mayekar’s friends or family whose bank accounts were used to transfer money claiming they were being transferred to contributors.
This came to light when the accounts department brought to D’sa’s notice the suspicious invoices issued by Mayekar. Following investigation, the it was revealed that 78 people who were paid as ‘contributors’ since January 2013, have not written a single column for any of the editions of the publication. The police have registered the case under relevant sections of conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and forgery. Mayekar, who is on the run, had sought anticipatory bail from the sessions court last week.