Prashant Nulkar (49), the alleged mastermind of the petrol pump racket, allegedly made “personal as well as business visits” to 35 countries in recent years. The Thane police suspect his visits to at least three countries were related to selling tampered chips for fuel vending machines. Nulkar has told the police he visited most countries as a tourist.
On July 11, the Thane police arrested Nulkar from Hubli in Karnataka, claiming he supplied doctored chips to several pumps in Maharashtra and other states. Police had then said they suspected he had supplied these chips to South Africa, China and Abu Dhabi as well. The doctored chips allowed petrol pumps to fill less petrol than what was displayed and motorists paid for.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhishek Trimukhe said, “He visited 35 countries. We are verifying if he sold tampered chips to petrol pumps in some of these countries. We are aware that he serviced a petrol pump in South Africa. He claims a Chinese company gave him the contract to work there. His visits to China and Abu Dhabi are also under the lens. He has also been to Japan for training.”
“So far, he has not co-operated much during interrogation. However, some names of people involved in the scam have come up during interrogation. The process of verification is going on.” Police produced Nulkar before a local court, which further remanded him in police custody for two more days. Police said Nulkar owns three petrol pumps and a beer bar in Kolhapur.
Since June this year, the Thane police have raided 96 petrol pumps in 16 districts across Maharashtra, of which 56 were found using tampered vending machines. So far, 23 people have been arrested, including owners and managers of petrol pumps, technicians and software experts. One arrested accused was linked to a similar petrol pump racket busted in UP by that state’s Special Task Force earlier this year.