In December 2019, Tamil Nadu’s Kumbakonam witnessed a birthday celebration that became the talk of the small town. Mariyur Ramadoss Ganesh, a dairy owner, had a helicopter shower rose petals on his one-year-old son, the birthday boy.
Almost two years later, the high-flying Ganesh — by now the local BJP traders’ wing leader — and his brother, Mariyur Ramadoss Swaminathan, are all over the town again, but for less cheerful reasons. The ‘helicopter brothers’, as they are known, have been accused of cheating people of a whopping Rs 600 crore, and posters have been stuck across Kumbakonam demanding action against them.
An FIR in the case was registered by the Thanjavur district crime branch on Wednesday. On July 18, Thanjavur (North) BJP leader N Satheesh Kumar issued a statement saying Ganesh had been removed from his post.
The brothers have been accused of swindling people by assuring them of high returns on investments. According to the police, the duo, along with two others, has been booked for cheating, breach of trust and criminal conspiracy under sections 406, 420 and 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code.
One Srikanth (56), believed to be the manager of their company, has been arrested. The brothers are absconding.
Who are the ‘helicopter brothers’?
According to the police, Mariyur Ramadoss Ganesh and Mariyur Ramadoss Swaminathan, natives of Thiruvarur, settled in Kumbakonam five to six years ago and started a dairy business with cows of foreign breed.
Over the years, their business expanded considerably, including “dealings” in Singapore and other countries. They started a financial entity named Victory Finance, and in 2019, registered an aviation company named Arjun Aviation (OPC) Private Limited. Ganesh added political muscle to their operations by joining the BJP.
“The brothers reside in the posh Sri Nagar colony. We received reports that they have business connections in many countries, but we don’t have the details on this yet,” a senior officer from Kumbakonam told indianexpress.com.
The brothers set up a helipad in the Korukkai village. The helicopter, apart from the birthday outing, kept flying in and out of the town. Moving around in a range of expensive cars with security agents around them, the brothers were living life king-size. But last year, trouble began.
What are they accused of
According to police officers, the brothers had been collecting money from people for the past few years, with the promise of doubling it in 12 months. They had appointed agents to gather more participants in the scheme, assuring them of commission. Many businessmen and the rich folk of the town invested.
Officers said initially, the brothers delivered on their promises, but later began to delay payments. Last year, when people started asking for their money, they were told the company is facing losses due to Covid-19 but the payments would be made soon.
However, as the delay stretched, some grew suspicious.
Pazhanivel, a resident of Korkai who claimed to be an investor, said, “I invested Rs 10 lakh with MR Ganesh. He said he would provide Rs 20 lakh in return, I have the proof of the deal. When I approached him for my money, he kept asking me to come back another day, and eventually stopped responding. I got a cheque for Rs 10 lakh, but it bounced. When I took this up with him, he threatened me with his political connections.”
Another person named Karthikeyan said he invested Rs 4 lakh through an agent, but has not received returns for over a year.
The agents who had worked for the brothers now stuck posters across the town, demanding the government act against them. In the posters, it was claimed that the amount the brothers cheated people of added up to Rs 600 crore.
Finally, one Jafarullah and his wife Fairaj Bhanu lodged a complaint against the brothers with Thanjavur SP Deshmukh Sekhar Sanjay. In the complaint, the couple claimed they had deposited Rs 15 crore in the financial entity owned by the brothers but never got back the amount or the interest. They alleged that the brothers threatened them, and hence they approached the police. Based on the complaint, the District Crime Branch initiated the investigation.
By then, Kumbakonam’s most flamboyant residents had vanished from the town.
“A special team has been formed for the case. Search for the brothers is on. We are also investigating into their businesses, and making inquiries about their overseas dealings,” the police officer told indianexpress.com.