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Maria Sharapova named in India housing fraud probe

Maria Sharapova
NEW DELHI: Maria Sharapova is being investigated by police in India in a cheating and criminal conspiracy case involving a real estate company who used the tennis star to endorse a luxury housing project that never took off.
Real estate firm Homestead Infrastructure is accused of taking tens of millions of rupees from home buyers for a project named “Ballet by Maria Sharapova,” a luxury apartment complex with its own helipad, tennis academy and other amenities. The five-time Grand Slam champion traveled to India in 2013 to launch the project at a glitzy ceremony. Police began the investigation on Nov. 16.
“We have registered a case of cheating on directions from the court,” local police officer Arvind Sharma told AFP.
He said Sharapova and the firm behind the development were named in the case.
Piyush Singh, a lawyer representing one of the home buyers, said Sharapova’s celebrity was the reason most people put their money into the project.
The project in Gurgaon — a satellite city of the capital New Delhi — was supposed to be ready in 2016 but, Singh said, construction work was abandoned after builders collected millions from homebuyers.
Calls to the developers went unanswered. Sharapova has not yet commented on the case.
Sharapova, a former world number one, made almost $30 million in 2015, according to Forbes, with $23 million of that coming from endorsements.