The Central Crime Branch of Greater Chennai Police on Thursday busted a fake ball bearing racket operating out of Broadway. They seized Rs 3 crore worth fake ball bearings which were being sold under the brand name of the Swedish firm SKF.
The CCB team has also arrested eight persons, including two brothers who were masterminded the racket. According to the police, the brothers purchased cheap quality ball bearings from Mumbai and then repackaged them as SKF bearings. They had forged the seals and other imprints to sell their wares as genuine products, the police said.
A vigilance team from SKF, which supplied bearings to industries, auto majors and ship building units, had lodged a complaint with the city Commissioner of Police TK Rajendran alleging that counterfeits of their products were being sold widely in Chennai, allegedly by their own dealers. The company in-house team had started an investigation after they received several complaints regarding the quality of their products from customers. Upon examining the bearings, they found them to be duplicate.
The complaint was then forwarded to the CCB following which CCB deputy Commissioner Jayakumar formed a special team to investigate the case. The team then started monitoring the registered dealers of SKF and found out many shops in Lingu Chetty Street, Thambu Chetty Street and Angappanayagan Street in Broadway had been selling fake bearings. Police then zeroed in on warehouse owned by brothers Santhosh Kumar Jaiswal (42) and Dilip Kumar Jaiswal (48) and seized several fake SKF bearings.
Police then arrested the brothers and post interrogation, raided one more warehouse and eight shops selling fake SKF bearings in Broadway. In total, 14,000 fake SKF bearings worth around Rs 3 crore were seized. Also, 1,105 units of SKF brand labels, 100 printed covers and 15 stencils were taken over by the officials.
“We have seized fake small ball bearings used in cycles to huge ones that are used in ship building. All these packets look exactly like the original,” a senior police official attached to CCB said. Based on the confession given by the brothers, police arrested Antony Susai Raj, Rahul Kumar, Chandan Das, Balasubramanian, Veth Prakash and Rajesh Gupta who were agents who supplied the fake products.
CCB officials said two more accused are wanted in this case and they are absconding. CCB sources said the duplicate bearings manufactured by these posed great safety risk due to the poor quality. Police said this group had marketed the products in several areas in the state.
Many consumers who had purchased these products had complaining to SKF’s management that the product sold to them were of inferior quality, urging the company to get to the root of the matter.