Actress Arrested, Allegedly Involved in Extortion Case

Leena Maria Paul, the Malayalam actress who appeared in the film Madras Cafe, has been arrested in connection to an expansive fraud case, according to The India Express. The Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing took Paul into custody on Sunday, Sept. 5 under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act for her alleged involvement in a Rs 200-crore (approximately $2.3 billion) extortion racket also involving her partner, Sukesh Chandrasekar.

Paul's arrest came nearly a month after a First Information Report (FIR) was registered on Aug. 7, The Tribune reported. According to the FIR, Chandrasekar extorted money from former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Singh's wife Aditi Singh. Singh said in the FIR that a man posing as an official of the Law Ministry offered to help her secure bail for her husband, who was in jail at that time in connection to a 2019 money laundering case, in return for money. Police confirmed an additional Fir cheating, extortion, and criminal conspiracy was registered against Chandrasekar last week. Chandrashekhar was detained in the Rohini jail of the national capital. Meanwhile, a Delhi court granted Delhi Police 15-day custody of Paul during an appearance in front of Additional Sessions Judge Praveen Singh at Patiala House court. During the appearance, Paul's lawyer denied the actress' involvement in the case.

"The main accused has been in Tihar jail for so many years. There are two FIRs in this case and there is no role of mine in both cases," Paul's lawyer said. "All properties she was enjoying, as per prosecution, have been sealed. I have been asked to come to Delhi and join investigation without notice, I did not question that. There must be some grounds for custodial interrogation. I have been questioned for 10 days by both ED and EOW."

This is the latest run-in with the law for Paul, who in December 2018 grabbed headlines when her beauty parlor in Kochi was at the center of a shootout. Notorious underworld don Ravi Suliya Pujari was later arrested in that case. Prior to that, Paul, along with Chandrasekar, was arrested in 2013 for allegedly cheating a Chennai bank of Rs 19 crore (225 million). During her arrest, authorities recovered nine expensive cars and 81 expensive wristwatches. Both Pual and Chandrasekar secured bail. Just two years later, the couple was again arrested for their alleged involvement in another fraud scam.

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Paul is best known for her role as Tamil rebel in Shoojit Sircar's Madras Cafe. She began her acting career with a 2009 role in Red Chillie. She has a number of other credits to her name, including Husbands in Goa, Cobra, and Biriyani.