‘Cellphone king’ detained for fraud: Who is Freedom 251 maker Mohit Goel

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Mohit Goel, the director of Noida- based company Ringing Bells which had announced Freedom 251 smartphones at an astonishingly low price of Rs 251 apiece, has been detainedon allegations of fraud after the owner of Ghaziabad-based Ayam Enterprises filed an FIR on Wednesday.

IAyam Enterprises has claimed it was persuaded by Goel and others from Ringing Bells to take up the distributorship of the Freedom 251 phones in November 2015.

“We paid Rs 30 lakh to Ringing Bells through RTGS on different occasions. But it delivered us product worth Rs 13 lakh only. Upon follow-up, we could get products plus money totaling Rs 14 lakh,” it claimed in the FIR.

In December 2016 a court had summoned Ringing Bell, its authorised signatory and Managing Director Mohit Goel, its Directors Anmol Goel and Sumit Goel, CEO Dhaarna Goel and President Ashok Chaddha on a complaint filed by Aryan Infratech in a Rs 2-crore cheque bounce case.According to the complaint, the accused had issued a cheque in favour of the complainant firm AIPL towards discharge of their liability. However, it was returned by the bank on October 28 due to “insufficient funds”. The complainant firm sent a legal notice to the accused but payment was not made and AIPL approached the court.

Mohit Goel,the owner of the company that shocked the Indian mobile market by launching a phone at an unbelievably low price tag of Rs 251, has reportedly taken money from several people under the guise of providing them distribution agencies of his smartphone company.

The phone not only set alarm bells last ringing last year but also stoked a media storm of sorts.

According to a report in Times of India, Ringing Bells had pre-booked phones without any manufacturing facility last year. The Enforcement Directorate had subsequently intervened following which the company was forced to return all money collected via online bookings through online payment gateways. Meanwhile, complaints from dealers started emerging as they had deposited advances with the company. The company procured some Taiwan-made phones and distributed them with Freedom 251 branding. Ringing Bells claims to have received close to seven crore registrations for Freedom 251, and yet only 70,000 units have been delivered so far. Even the company website has not been working since November.

Moreover, Goel  sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver all 7.5 crore units of Freedom 251. He demanded Rs 50,000 crore from the government under the Digital India initiative in a letter to Modi. According to an IANS report, Goel in the letter dated June 28 said, “We have brought ‘Freedom 251’ which we offer on ‘Cash on Delivery’ terms but we have a gap between the BOM (Bill of Materials) and the Selling Price. We, therefore, humble request government support to actualise the objective to cascade the availability and usage of smartphones all through the far reaches of our great nation.”

Ringing Bells president was quoted in a Business Standard report as saying, the Goel family has been into the agri-commodity business, with interests in UP and Haryana, and is the proprietor of Ringing Bells. The family is investing Rs 200 crore into the venture in the form of equity capital. The funds will be used to set up two plants- one in Noida and another in Uttarakhand-to manufacture handsets. In addition to the family investment, the company will raise Rs 300 crore in bank loans for the plants.

However, a news report in The Times of India says Mohit’s father Rajesh Goel still has a grocery shop in Garhipukhta, a small town in Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh. And Mohit is believed to have worked with his father, assisting him at the shop. But not many people knew about it.

Rajesh Goel, who is one of the directors of the company, told TOI, “Mohit went to Noida and completed his graduation from Amity University. He had expressed his desire to open a company and I loaned him some money. Little did we know what it meant then. It’s really big, is it?”

So who really is Mohit Goel?

According to International Business Times, the Goel family is claimed to have been running an agriculture-related businesses. And every precaution has been taken to keep the name of the “family-run, three-decade-old business a secret”. The report says that according to Mohit’s Linkedin profile, he has undertaken two graduation courses, but he does not mention when he pursued them. The account also states that Goel worked for the Canada-based Shaw Communications firm for more than nine years. IBTimes UK says it repeatedly tried to contact Mohit Goel, but he remained unavailable for comment