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Founder of India's $4 smartphone firm arrested on allegations of fraud
February 24, 2017 / 10:15 AM / 9 months ago

Founder of India's $4 smartphone firm arrested on allegations of fraud

MUMBAI (Reuters) - The founder of an Indian tech firm that shot to prominence by offering a $4 smartphone has been arrested on allegations of fraud, after a handset dealer accused the company of not refunding him for an unfulfilled order, the police said.

Murli Manohar Joshi (R), a senior leader of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) poses next to cut-outs of Freedom 251 mobile phone during its unveiling in New Delhi, India, February 17, 2016.. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Mohit Goel, the founder of Ringing Bells, was arrested Thursday afternoon in Uttar Pradesh and will be produced in court later on Friday, said Rahul Srivastav, a police spokesman from the northern Indian state.

Goel and his company made headlines last year with the “Freedom” smartphone, which was priced at 251 rupees ($3.77), attracting strong demand but also widespread scepticism and scrutiny from regulators even in price-conscious India, where cheap smartphones are big sellers.

The founder was arrested after a dealer said he had paid 3 million Indian rupees for an order of handsets but had received only a fraction of the order. He further said some of the phones received were defective, according to the police.

The dealer said he received only 1.4 million rupees in new phones and cash. When he pursued Ringing Bells for a refund for the unfulfilled order, the dealer said Mohit Goel and another executive at the mobile phone maker threatened to kill him and his family.

Ringing Bells could not be immediately reached for a comment.

($1 = 66.6650 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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