BENGALURU: A routine exercise of freeing up lockers at the famous Bowring Institute club here led to a shock discovery of cash, jewellery and property documents, all worth around Rs 550 crore, from three of them. The lockers belonged to a member who has been with the club since 1993. To top it, the club secretary was allegedly offered inducements to return the property files.
Bowring Institute, in a bid to free up lockers for its members, had been asking those who had been allotted them to regularise it for some time. The last time the club broke open a locker was in 2010. After sending out notices several times to such members, the lockers of those who did not respond were forcibly opened by the club office-bearers on Thursday. What they uncovered left them stupefied.
Honorary secretary of the Institute, H S Srikanth, said three lockers allotted to Avinash Amarlal Kukreja, which were broken open, revealed six bags. “On Thursday, the club’s employees found the six bags in Kukreja’s lockers -- assigned serial numbers 69, 71 and 78 -- and informed me, after which I alerted DCP (Central) Chandragupta. We suspected that cash and jewellery were in those bags. At 10.30 pm, the location was sealed by the police,” Srikanth said.
The entire process was video-recorded by the club. Kukreja, who is in his mid-40s, was reportedly using the lockers for the past 3-4 years. On Friday, the bags were opened by officials of the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate. They contained cash of Rs 3.90 crore, jewellery worth Rs 7.80 crore, 650 gm of gold, a Rolex wristwatch worth Rs 15 lakh and a Peugeot wristwatch worth Rs 30-35 lakh.
The bags also contained about six files pertaining to dealings of large properties around Devanahalli and Begur, and also loose cheque leaves and an entire cheque book which had been signed. One of the documents found is of a 24-acre plot near Devanahalli.
The IT and ED officials have seized the belongings and also raided the residence and offices of Kukreja.
However, at the Institute, the drama did not end with the handing over of the bags to the officials. Srikanth claimed that around 7 pm on Friday, a visibly distraught Kukreja visited him at his office and informed him that the bags belonged to him. He allegedly offered to let Srikanth keep the cash and the jewellery and only wanted the files back.
“He even fell at my feet and cried,” Srikanth claimed. He then informed Kukreja that the contents of the bags were now in possession of the authorities.Srikanth alleged that a few unknown people called him on Friday and tried to convince him to hand over Kukreja’s belongings to them. “About 4-5 strangers visited my residence when I was not at home, and one person, who identified himself as Martin, came into my office chamber and offered me `5 crore cash immediately if I could hand him one particular file,” he said.
Srikanth also said I-T officials had informed him that they were on the lookout for these files for a long time. He added that while Kukreja was not a regular visitor to the club, his mother Kiran visited almost every evening. Kukreja is cooperating with the authorities and the club will take action against him for misusing the club’s lockers.