High-profile car smuggler Joseph held in New Delhi

High-profile car smuggler Joseph held in New Delhi

High-profile imported-car smuggler Alex C Joseph was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday from a five-star hotel when he arrived to allegedly hatch a plot for fixing a deal to swing a Central government project in his client’s favour.

Joseph (52), evading arrest for the past 11 months, landed in the CBI net after a team was trailing him for some time, sources said. The investigating team swooped on the alleged fraudster as he entered the Taj Palace hotel.

Sources said the CBI had information about Joseph's arrival in Delhi. They said the tip-off was that the fugitive will be in the capital for some days to try and persuade a senior government functionary to swing a deal in the favour of his Gulf-based clients. “We could not have waited to see whether he would be able to clinch the deal or not. He is an escape master. Even a few days ago, he had entered into an altercation with someone but before police could reach there, he escaped,” the officer said.

After he was taken into custody, Joseph was brought to the Chanakyapuri police station. The CBI team will produce him before the duty magistrate on Sunday to procure a transit remand and take him to Kerala. Late in the night, he was taken for a medical examination.

He is believed to have supplied high-end cars, which were imported in violation of rules, to several leading politicians in south India, particularly Tamil Nadu. Sources said they have tip-off that he promised an imported car for the family of an opposition party leader but the deal did not get through. In March 2013, the CBI had seized 36 purportedly fraudulently imported cars from Tamil Nadu, including those belonging to Udayanithi Stalin, son of M K Stalin, BCCI chief N Srinivasan and R Venkatachalam, vice-chancellor of Sree Ram Chandra Medical College. 

After this, the agency had launched a manhunt for Joseph, who is the son of a schoolmaster from Thiruvalla in Kerala. It is alleged that he was also in touch with some leading legal fraternity members while he was on the run. Officials suspect that Joseph fabricated documents and conducted hawala transactions to import over 400 luxury cars through various Indian seaports between 1997 and 2000 in the name of benamis working in the West Asia.

Sources said he had two passports and one in the name of Abi John. The police in Kerala, Hyderabad and Chennai are on the look out for him.

He was earlier arrested in Hyderabad a few years ago when he tried to fly to Sharjah with the passport in the name of Abi John. However, he was freed after his “fake” passport went missing. He had denied all allegations.

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