Thursday, April 30, 2009

Helicopter sabotage targets Indian billionaire

Indian billionaire Anil Ambani leaves after casting his vote at a polling Anil Ambani does not wait in traffic.

The billionaire industrialist often commutes by helicopter, soaring far above the traffic jams that clog his sprawling hometown of Mumbai.

But Ambani's high-flying life could have ended last week — a complaint filed with police said pebbles and gravel were found in the chopper's engine — debris that could have caused the craft to crash.

The case took a bizarre twist this week: the technician who discovered the suspected sabotage turned up dead. Bharat Borge's body was discovered on suburban Mumbai railway tracks after he was apparently hit by a train — a death police are calling suicide but Borge's family believes was murder.

The intrigue is only the latest chapter in the Ambani saga, a multigenerational tale that began with an ambitious patriarch and includes warring brothers, Bollywood starlets, and egos that match their multibillion dollar fortunes.

The latest developments have gripped the country, with newspapers splashing the story across their front pages and TV news channels giving repeated updates.

Whoever placed the pebbles in the engine understood helicopters, senior pilot R.N. Joshi of Reliance Transport & Travels — one of Anil Ambani's companies — said in the police complaint. The chopper likely would have been able to take off, he said, but the debris would have entered the gear box and cut the power, bringing down the aircraft.

"Some persons, possible business rivals, were attempting to take away the life of Anil Ambani," said Joshi.

The alleged sabotage would not have been possible "without active involvement" of someone at the Mumbai company that maintained the Ambani helicopter, he said.

via Helicopter sabotage targets Indian billionaire.

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