Bengaluru stung by Rs 2,000 crore ponzi scam, 7 from IMA Jewels grilled

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 14, 2019 16:13 hrs

Bengaluru: Seven directors from Bengaluru's IMA Jewels have been arrested and are being grilled by the Special Investigation Team to determine their alleged role in a multi-crore ponzi scam operated by its owner Mohammed Mansoor Khan, the local City police team was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Mohammed Mansoor Khan is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, according to the website of IMA Jewels. Bullion Trading and retail sales of Gold, Diamond, Silver and Platinum jewellery are the main businesses of the group. There are significant interests in educational academies (pre-primary to higher secondary education), healthcare services, hypermarkets and supermarkets, Infrastructure and Real estate, and Printing and publishing businesses as well.

The accused directors -- Anwar Pasha, Arshad Khan, Dada Peer, Naveed Ahmed, Nazir Hussain, Nizamuddin and Waseem - were remanded to a 10-day police custody to unearth the scam, which has reportedly swindled the hard-earned savings of thousands of investors from across the state.

"On being warned against delaying the inevitable, the directors turned up at the city police commissioner's office and surrendered on Wednesday. They were arrested and produced in a local court for our custody to interrogate them as Khan is still at large," Deputy Commissioner of Police (central) Rahul Kumar told reporters.

"As the case is being investigated by the SIT, its head B.R. Ravikanth Gowda is interrogating the accused on what went wrong leading to the IMA (I Monetary Advisory) go bust and Khan fleeing the country last week," said Kumar.

IMA (I Monetary Advisory) Jewels collected investments from several investors promising to return them with returns of 3 percent per month or 36 percent per annum. Several retail investors may have reportedly lost their life-savings in this scam.

According to a report in the ToI, a woman who depended on begging as a means of livelihood had invested a lakh with the company. She was hopeful of getting Rs 2,000 every month. IMA Jewels made pay-outs regularly for five months, but stopped doing so in Feb'19. She hopes that the almighty will help her recover the money.

The Mirror reported that students of the IMA school were admitted only if their parents had invested in the company. The report says that the school had 1,000 students. It is also reported that staffers and school teachers were not qualified to do their jobs. The report cites anonymous sources as saying that some of the 'teachers' had not even passed their SSLC exams.

About 20,000 investors have filed a complaint with the local police station, enclosing a photocopy of documents, including passbooks showing their investments in the company.

The actual value of the scam is yet to be officially declared but a certain section of media and reports indicate that it could be above Rs 2,000 crores. The damage to schools

IMA's chartered account Iqbal Khan was also arrested on early Thursday after the directors disclosed his name and his alleged role in the scam that has rocked the state and the minority community as majority of investors and depositors in its ponzi schemes are lower and middle class Muslims.

Though the police launched a massive hunt for Khan, he is reported to have fled the country after Eid on June 5 along with his family, and huge quantity of gold ornaments, silver jewellery, diamonds and unspecified amount of cash from his posh showroom in the city's centre.

"We are on the lookout for Khan and will seek Interpol's help through the Union home ministry to extradite him to India after ascertaining in which country he is hiding," said Kumar.

The ponzi scam came to light on June 10 when the IMA showroom did not open for business after a week-long closure for Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of Ramzan last week and its Managing Director (Khan) reportedly fled to Dubai or Saudi Arabia to escape the wrath of his investors as their savings are lost.

The SIT team also raided IMA's head office and its main showroom and seized volumes of documents related to properties, assets, collaterals pledged by investors and depositors and bank accounts for investigation.

The SIT has directed the banks to freeze the accounts of the company, Khan and his relatives to prevent any transaction.

The Hindu reported that IMA Jewels was being probed by a State-Level Co-ordination committee. In fact IMA Jewels had also been on the RBI's radar as early as Nov'18 but utilized a loophole to get away. A senior official from the SLCC is quoted in the report as saying that IMA Jewels took money and made unsuspecting investors as their partners, issuing them limited liability partnerships. The money was invested in gold bullion and a dividend was paid to the investors at the end of every month.

The curious case of IMA Jewels has had Twitterati seeking the PMO's intervention. Some even explain their harrowing experiences. Here are some of the tweets:

With inputs from IANS. Do share your thoughts in the comments section below:

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