Taxidermist defrauded of his properties, CID tells Apex Court

Taxidermist defrauded of his properties, CID tells Apex Court

Karnataka's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has told the Supreme Court that the world-renowned Mysuru-based taxidermist Edwin Joubert Van Ingen was cheated of his properties and wealth.

He was made to reside in outhouse of his bungalow in his last days. Van Ingen, a British national, died a bachelor at the age of 101-year on March 12, 2013.

In an application, CID sought further six months from the top court to complete its probe into alleged defrauding of more than Rs 500 crore worth properties as well as coffee estates in Kerala allegedly by Michael Floyd Eshwer, who claimed himself to be an adopted son and the legal heir to the properties.

The application filed by advocate Joseph Aristotle contended before the court that the CID has recorded statements of 25 witnesses. Four of them has recorded their version before a judicial magistrate. It has also sought help from Interpol as Van Ingen had several accounts in British banks.

"The evidence so far collected strongly supports the fact that Respondent no 1 (Eshwer) has cheated the complainant by playing fraud upon him and by misrepresentation and coercion," it contended. The police also maintained that Eshwer gained trust of Van Ingen and misled him into transferring his properties.

"When Van Ingen realised that he has been cheated, the accused removed him from his own house and kept him under duress in the outhouse of his bungalow," the CID said.

On a plea by Tilly Gifford, who identified herself as niece of Van Ingen, a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on August 1 given the CID 60 days time to finish the probe. It had then set aside the High Court of Karnataka order of June 19, 2014 that quashed an FIR lodged in March, 2013 with the Mysuru's Nazarabad police station by Van Ingen against Eshwer.

The apex court has fixed the application for consideration next  week.

Detailing its investigations, the CID said it has been found that Van Ingen's signatures were obtained on blank papers and subsequently matter was put into them without his knowledge.  

The CID said more documents, witnesses, along with expert opinion are needed to be obtained in this case to establish the culpability of the accused in the trial. "Since the case pertains to 2005-2013, the process of document collection is time consuming. Moreover, the complainant is a foreigner, many of the witnesses resided abroad and the recording of their statements required more time," it said.

The bank accounts of complainant and the accused were examined and some suspicious transactions were noticed, it contended.

The CID said more time was required to ascertain facts as the investigation has disclosed that the Kerala government is taking action under the Kerala Escheat and Forfeiture of Property Act, 1964 for confiscation of the coffee estate in Karthikulum and Alathur belonging to complainant and subsequently transferred to Eshwer in Wayanad district.

 

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