Dubbed the ‘Bachhan’ of the stock market, Harshad Mehta is famous for being behind India’s largest scam. He also was the owner of the only Lexus LS 400 in India, let’s have a look at the infamous car and how it ultimately led to his downfall.
When Harshad Mehta imported the Lexus LS 400 to India, it was a unicorn as it was the only one in India. Mehta was known for having expensive tastes, like having a palatial penthouse in South Mumbai, and already having cars like the Toyota Cera in his collection, it wasn’t too much of a surprise when he bought the LS 400 at an eye-watering price of Rs 35 lakh in the early 90s.
The first-generation LS 400 came with a 4.0 litre V8, making 250Ps/350Nm of peak power and torque figures, and competed against the likes of the BMW 750 Li and the Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL. It was among the first cars to have digital A/C readouts, power-adjustable shoulder belts, heated front seats, and auto-off headlamps and proved to be quite a successful model for Lexus, selling close to 42,000 units.
But for Mumbaikars in the early ’90s, seeing an LS 400 rumbling along meant only one thing, that Harshad Mehta, the big money stockbroker and later on revealed to be behind India’s largest scam, is on the move. Sadly, Mehta’s love for his unicorn ultimately led to his demise. Sucheta Dalal, column editor for The Times of India at that time, saw the LS 400 outside of State Bank of India’s headquarters and questioned how could a stockbroker afford such an expensive car that wasn’t even officially launched in India at the time. This led to a full bore investigation which exposed how he had used the loopholes in the Indian banking system to siphon off money and use it trade on the stock market. As details and evidence were gathered up, with the stock market going on a bear run as well, it was revealed that Harshad Mehta managed to swindle to the tune of Rs 4000 crore from the banks.
After Harshad Mehta was arrested, all of his belongings were auctioned off including his beloved LS 400. It was bought by one of Mumbai’s top-tier businessmen, Raja Dodi who said wanted it because it was very rare in India and probably was cheaper than to directly import it and this story was reported in the Economic Times as well.