December 1, 2020: Scam 1992‘s popularity, directed by Hansal Mehta, has touched the sky. This show is based on Indian stock market scam by stock broker Harshad Mehta. This web series was influenced by the book The Scam: Who won, who lost, who got away written by Sucheta Dalal and her husband Debasis Basu.
Sucheta Dalal, the mastermind who unravelled the scam
With the popularity of this web series, people were really attracted towards Harshad Mehta’s flamboyant lifestyle, and quite ironically, Harshad Mehta became more popular than the original hero of the story, Sucheta Dalal.
Most of us don’t know much about Sucheta Dalal even after her being the true mastermind to unravel the scam. So here’s everything you need to know about her.
Sucheta Dalal was a law student but she began her career in journalism by landing a job with Fortune India. She later went to work with companies like Business Standard and Economic Times. In 1980, Sucheta joined The Times of India as journalist for the business and economics wing. It was this job that led her to investigate various camps and ultimately made land on Harshad Mehta’s case.
Sucheta was intrigued by the increasing fame and lavish lifestyle of Harshad Mehta which led her to investigate Harshad Mehta and unravel his sources of wealth. In 1992, Sucheta brought the scam to light as she exposed it on the columns of The Times of India.
People those days believed Harshad to have Midas touch, whatever he touched turned into gold. It was only Sucheta who wasn’t fooled by his words.
Harshad Mehta rose from rags to riches and so was famous among the commoners. He was the living proof that anything can be possible. He was not only an idol to commoners but also served good connections with politicians. And on top of it, he was the media’s favourite. One can only imagine how difficult it must have been for Sucheta to go against him.
The unravelling of the scam
But when she started unravelling the details of the scam the case got clearer. It was made clear when the SBI Chairman confirmed that the Big Bull has paid back over Rs 500 crore out of Rs 770 crore in government security, and that has vanished into brokers’ account due to missing Subsidiary General Ledger (SGL) receipt. It was then found out that Harshad Mehta illegally used money from several banks to cover his tracks.
Strangely this reason was not enough to bring Harshad Mehta down. And soon he was back into the stock game.
It was only in 1998 when his fraud was completely exposed. This happened when the Damayanti group came to the fore. Through this group, Mehta manipulated the stocks of big companies. Once the operations of this group came out, the game for Harshad Mehta was over.
Harshad was arrested and he died in 2001 in jail due to heart attack.
Sucheta had been awarded prestigious awards like Padmashree Award, the Chameli Devi award instituted by the media foundation and Femina’s woman of substance award for her brave work in the field of journalism.
Apart from the 1992 Harshad Mehta scam, Sucheta also brought a few more cases to light, like the IDBI scam, Enron scandal and Ketan Parekh scam.
Ketan Parekh scam
It was quite similar to the Harshad Mehta scam. Sucheta refers to Ketan as the inheritor of Harshad Mehta. In fact he mastered what Harshad Mehta had started. Parekh purchased large stocks in lesser-known small market capitalisation companies and jacked their prices through circular trading with other traders as a result steep hikes in share prices zoomed up from Rs 120 to Rs 10,000. But later, a joint parliamentary committee investigation found that Parekh was involved in circular trading throughout the time period with various companies. This resulted in Parekh’s first conviction.
But Parekh in his bail appeal, promised to repay every cent and that was no small amount. It amounted to hundreds of crores.
This made Sucheta more suspicious and she kept raising hard questions like what were the source of Ketan Parekh’s income and how was going to repay the money back to market entities.
It shocked her how SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) was not concerned about the means by which the money came in. However, due to her involvement, the official investigation unravelled and it was found that other companies and actors were trading on behalf of Parekh. And 26 entities were banned as a result of investigation.
DHFL scam was comparatively more recent. It took place in 2019. In fact, Sucheta was one of the few who picked up the Rs 20,000 crore school in the books of DHFL and she made connections between hiccup Mirchi Dawood Ibrahim Gangster associate and the promoters of DHFL.
Sucheta Dalal had entered the world of finance when it was a man’s arena. And yet nothing stopped her from chasing and unravelling the truth. Sucheta is now writing for Moneylife, a magazine on investment started by her husband. In 2006, she and her husband founded Moneylife foundation, a non-profit organisation, for financial literacy in India.
Today’s media and journalists who are driven and blinded by TRP should look up to Sucheta.
She did not just collect evidence for her investigation but also never revealed a single piece of news without confirming it. Sucheta as a true journalist, sticks to her ethics. She followed up her investigation not for stories but for justice and most importantly, she stopped for nothing but truth.