Where is Joy Thomas?

Mumbai: For the better part of the day, the police were clueless about Joy Thomas’ whereabouts on Tuesday. After a nearly day-long quest for the ousted managing director of the scam-hit PMC bank, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) sleuths were left scratching their heads.

"He remains until now untraceable and incommunicado," a senior EOW official told this newspaper on Wednesday.

EOW sources said that the search for Thomas by a special team began around the time when two other teams from the elite Mumbai police unit were despatched to conduct searches at the bank's central office at Bhandup and the corporate headquarters of bankrupt reality firm HDIL at Bandra.

Upon reaching Thomas’ 'modest' Bhandup home, the sleuths realised that the ‘tainted’ banker had made himself unavailable. "It was as if he knew we were coming for him," said a source who was part of the team.

The police found his wife and son (22) at home. The cops were told by Thomas's son that he was clueless about the whereabouts of his father for the past couple of days. Nonetheless, he shared Thomas's ‘cell phone number’ with the police team.

The number was put on radar and the police tried to trace the location of the caller. Finally, the team managed to track down the location around Powai area and zeroed in on the user.

To their surprise, the user (of the SIM card) turned out to be an auto rickshaw driver who claimed to have been using it for a long time. When queried again, Thomas' son told the cops that his father gave him 'that' number only.

However, senior EOW officials claimed that Thomas would be traced soon. "Thomas' father is originally from Kerala and had settled down in Mumbai long ago. Many of his relatives also live in the city. We are sure he is hiding in one of those locations," an official said.

The questioning of Thomas, the EOW official said, is crucial in unravelling of the entire scam as he was the key functionary in the knowledge of the bank's financials.

"Being the MD of the bank he was well aware of the scam that was thriving for over a decade. His questioning is vital for identifying the perpetrators and constructing the money trail," officials said.

By Debasish Panigrahi

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