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Delhi: Matrix got over 7k machines from vendors in India, China, say police

On Saturday, police arrested the company’s CEO Gaurav Khanna and Vice-President Gaurav Suri along with three other employees. The accused have been booked under sections of cheating, Epidemic Diseases Act, and Essential Commodities Act.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
May 10, 2021 1:34:45 am
Outside Khan Chacha restaurant. (Photo: PTI)

The Delhi Police on Sunday said Matrix Cellular Services Ltd, an international SIM company accused of black marketing oxygen concentrators, allegedly procured more than 7,000 machines from local vendors and Chinese companies and sold them at “exorbitant rates” to Covid patients and their families.

On Saturday, police arrested the company’s CEO Gaurav Khanna and Vice-President Gaurav Suri along with three other employees. The accused have been booked under sections of cheating, Epidemic Diseases Act, and Essential Commodities Act.

Police said they recovered a total of 524 concentrators from two top restaurants, Town Hall and Khan Chacha, in Khan Market and Nege Ju in Lodhi Colony as well as from Matrix’s warehouse in Chhatarpur’s Mandi Village. All three restaurants are owned by businessman Navneet Kalra. Police claim Kalra, who is absconding, worked with his friend Gagan Duggal, owner of Matrix Cellular Services, to sell the equipment. While Duggal’s alleged role is being investigated, police said he does not live in India and was allegedly procuring the concentrators from China to sell at an inflated price here.

Police Saturday also sought 5-day custody of Khanna but it was rejected by the court and it sent him to 14-day judicial custody.

An investigating officer said they need his custody to track procurement and import details and check the money trail: “We questioned the accused and found that most of the machines were imported from China and sold at a profit margin of Rs 40,000-Rs 42,000. Around 300-350 oxygen concentrators were sold by Matrix to Kalra. The owner of Matrix, Gagan Duggal, is Kalra’s friend.”

Police said the accused told them Khanna was managing day-to-day operations for procuring and selling the concentrators in Delhi. During questioning, Khanna told police that 7,000 units were procured by his company from various vendors in India and China. “We found tax invoices at Kalra’s restaurants and need to verify details of the transactions, customs licences and duty charges etc,” said the officer.

‘Concentrators were from different brands’

Samudra Sarangi, lead counsel for Matrix said, “Matrix is legitimately importing oxygen concentrators within the bounds of the law by paying applicable import duties, IGST/CGST. Matrix customers purchase the oxygen concentrators online and make payments through banking channels. There are no cash transactions between Matrix and its customers in this regard. Therefore, the allegation of black marketing and hoarding is entirely baseless in law. When it comes to pricing, 95% of the stock sold to the customers is below INR 50,000, so the allegation of exorbitant pricing by Matrix is incorrect. The allegations regarding the profit margin are also incorrect.”

Police on Friday had said the accused imported the equipment at a cost of Rs 16,000- Rs 22,000 each and sold it at an exorbitant rate of Rs 70,000.

An official from Matrix, who refused to be named, said they have filed a petition to release the illegally seized company’s stock: “We told the court that we bought the concentrators from different brands and of different sizes and capacities. This makes the price of each item different. Some brands cost Rs 14,000, others Rs 20,000-Rs 30,000. We suspect police intentionally took out the cheapest invoice of one concentrator, maximum sale of another concentrator (different capacity and brand) and put the two together and claimed that we are selling at higher prices.”

Senior officers haven’t commented on the allegations and said the “matter is under investigation”.

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