Tennis star Maria Sharapova has been reprimanded by the Delhi police in a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy involving a real estate company. She was the face of the Gurgaon-based luxury housing project that failed to take off.
The firm Homestead Infrastructure has been accused of extracting crores of rupees from home buyers in the name of a project called Ballet by Maria Sharapova. It’s supposed to be a luxury apartment complex with its own helipad and tennis academy among other facilities.
The former Wimbledon champion had even visited the site to launch the project in a flashy ceremony back in 2013.
Piyush Singh, a lawyer representing one of the home buyers, said Wednesday that Sharapova’s celebrity was the reason most people put their money into the project.
Singh said his client, Bhawana Agarwal, paid Homestead Infrastructure 5.3 million rupees (about $82,000) in 2013 because she was impressed by Sharapova’s association with the project. The cost of an apartment in the swanky project was around Rs 2 crore.
Agarwal then spent the next three years chasing the builders for updates on the property and her investment in it, but they stopped taking her calls, Singh said.
“The project never saw the light of day,” Singh said.
The project has also been using other sports celebrities, including the ill Michael Schumacher, to advertise its projects.