Scotland Yard are preparing a fresh appeal for information after the body of missing millionaire businessman, Amarjit Chohan, was found washed up near Bournemouth pier.
They fear that the businessman's family has been murdered. Mr Chohan, his wife, two young children and mother-in-law disappeared from their home in Hounslow, west London, more than 10 weeks ago under suspicious circumstances.
Letters purported to have been written by the 46-year-old businessman, who owned a freight company, said that he and his family had gone back to his country of birth, India. But with the discovery of Mr Chohan's body floating in the sea off Bournemouth beach, detectives suspect that his wife, Nancy, 25, their sons, three-month-old Ravinder and 18-month-old Devinder, and his mother-in-law, Charanjit Kaur, 51, have meet a similar fate.
Scotland Yard are preparing to make a fresh appeal about the case later today, at which they will voice their growing fear for the safety of the remaining members of the family. A post-mortem has yet to establish how Mr Chohan died, but he was pulled from the sea on 22 April having been in the water for several weeks. It took several days for the corpse to be identified.
Detectives have investigated Mr Chohan's business, CIBA Freight, in Southall, west London, which has an annual turnover of £4.5m, for clues to the case. One line of inquiry has followed reports that CIBA, which imported food mainly from Kenya and Uganda, was used by criminals smuggling the hallucinogenic drug khat from Africa to the United States, where it is illegal. Police have examined the possibility that Mr Chohan, known as Neil, fell foul of the smugglers.
Mr Chohan is said to have written to CIBA saying he had "had enough" and was leaving the country. Police suspect that several letters written by the millionaire were forged.
A spokesman for CIBA Freight confirmed yesterday that Mr Chohan had written to the firm before he disappeared on 16 February giving power of attorney to the company's manager and an employee. But he said that, since Mr Chohan was found murdered, the power, which allows the holder to run the company, had been switched to an independent director.
The family's disappearance came as a shock to friends and family who say it is out of character. They left home in a rush without taking possessions or passports. Several days after they went missing, Mr Chohan's car was seen being driven by an unknown white man, with a black male passenger, near Southampton.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Our concerns are now with the four other members of the family."