At Pipal Ka Gaon in Aligarh district, a middle-aged farmer steps out of his modest home, visibly worried.
Shyam Sundar’s son, Rahul Kumar, worked at a company launched in India by Charlie Peng alias Luo Sang, now under arrest for leading a suspected hawala operation.
“I am farmer, a labourer,” Sundar said, his voice hushed. “I only knew that he worked for a Chinese company. Nothing more than that.”
DID SUSPECT TRICK POOR INDIANS?
Kumar, his son, is not highly qualified. His financial background is humble. Yet, he is named a director on Fin and Black Rock, one of the five firms linked to Peng, who investigators say is originally Luo, a Chinese national at the centre of a suspected Rs 1,000-crore hawala racket.
Sundar says his son could just be a victim of fraud. “He must have been tricked.”
When India Today reached out to Kumar, the young man revealed Peng alias Luo had hired him as an office boy.
His job at the Gurugram office, Kumar said, involved handling courier and transport.
Kumar would see his boss but would not have any significant interaction with the 42-year-old employer. “They are big people,” he said.
According to Kumar, his employer wanted to start an e-cigarette business but dropped the plan after India banned the devices last year.
And then one fine day, the young office boy was asked to submit some additional documents certifying his identity, which he said he did.
What followed was unusual. On paper, the office boy was elevated as a director of Fin and Black Rock.
If Kumar is to be believed, there wasn’t any meaningful change in his financial remuneration though. As office boy, he received Rs 15,000 a month. As director, he got Rs 5,000 more.
Kumar, who has been questioned by income-tax investigators, told India Today he quit the company earlier this year. He also sounded worried about his reputation and that of his family.
NO COMPANY AT “OFFICIAL” ADDRESS
India Today dived deeper. At the Gurugram address of OTA Logistic, a separate company floated by the arrested suspect, the property owners denied any firm by that name ever operated out of that place.
Sandip Singh, son of the owner of the property near Sohna Chowk at Gurugram, called it an act of forgery on the part of Peng alias Luo.
The Enforcement Directorate has registered a case against the suspect under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
FORGING IDENTITY ON PAPER
Official documents, reviewed by India Today, show that the arrested man had joined the board of at least five companies and controlled most of them as a majority stakeholder.
His company filings carry declarations in which he claims to be an Indian citizen with a permanent address at Bualiang village in Manipur.
The suspect is now being investigated for allegedly hiding his Chinese identity and adopting an Indian moniker of Charlie Peng. He had submitted Aadhaar and PAN cards in support of his claims.
SPYING ON DALAI LAMA
Investigators suspect Peng, aka Luo, might also have spied on the Dalai Lama.
According to official sources, he is suspected to have bribed some people in Delhi’s Tibetan neighbourhood to secure information about the Dharamsala-based Tibetan spiritual leader.
The I-T department, according to the sources, found that the entire communication had been done through the Chinese mobile application WeChat.