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Harshad Mehta, 51; Broker Caught Up in India Market Scandal

Obituaries | PASSINGS

January 01, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Harshad Mehta, 51, a stockbroker who led millions of investors into India's biggest market crash 10 years ago, died Sunday of a heart attack while in police custody in Bombay.

Known as "Big Bull" on Bombay's Wall Street equivalent, Dalal Street, Mehta once owned 19 trendy apartments and a fleet of Rolls-Royce automobiles. But he was charged by a parliamentary committee with defrauding local and foreign banks in 1992 by illegally using their funds to drive up stock prices. The benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex doubled between January and April of that year, only to lose all its gains in the next seven months.

At one point, Mehta tried to bring down the Indian government, accusing then-Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao of accepting a bribe from him. Mehta was stripped of his broker's license and banned from securities trading for life.

Last month, police arrested him for illegally selling shares that were part of the evidence in the 1992 scandal. India's Central Bureau of Investigation accused Mehta and his two brothers of selling as many as 2.7 million shares of 90 companies that did not belong to them.

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