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Auditor of IMA Jewels arrested in Ponzi investigation

A senior official of the special investigation team (SIT), constituted by the Karnataka government, to probe the matter, said it was still on the lookout for Mansoor Khan, amid reports that he might have fled abroad.

bengaluru Updated: Jun 15, 2019 01:19 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
IMA jewels,I Monetary Advisory,Karnataka
Muslim investors register their complaints against IMA (I Monetary Advisory) jewellery fraud at a temporary police post set up at Shivajinagar, in Bengaluru, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (PTI)

Around 28,000 people have filed complaints since Monday of having been cheated by I Monetary Advisory (IMA), an Islamic investment firm that has purportedly gone bust, a day after news broke that the company’s founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan had absconded, the police said.

A senior official of the special investigation team (SIT), constituted by the Karnataka government, to probe the matter, said it was still on the lookout for Mansoor Khan, amid reports that he might have fled abroad.

“We seized his car from the airport, but we do not have evidence that he has indeed flown abroad or anywhere,” the official said on Friday.

IMA Jewels auditor Iqbal Khan has been arrested by SIT in the IMA Ponzi scam in Bengaluru, the investigative team confirmed on Friday, a news agency reported.

Meanwhile, news agency PTI reported the Enforcement Directorate has filed a case of money laundering in this connection.

The agency’s zonal office in Bengaluru has filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), equivalent to a first information report (FIR), and has pressed criminal charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), PTI quotes agency officials as saying.

On Monday, an audio clip purportedly recording a suicide note by IMA founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan surfaced on social media, sparking panic among investors, who made a beeline at IMA’s offices in desperation, only to find the properties locked and police posted outside.

The police revealed that since 2016, a number such firmshave gone bust.

In total, around 45,000 people had been affected by this, including those who invested in IMA in the past three years.

However, despite ample indications of the scandal brewing, there was little the state government could do, a senior official who was privy to discussions on the matter revealed.

Alarm bells had begun ringing after Ambidant Marketing had gone bust in 2016.

These fears were confirmed in case after case where a familiar pattern emerged of business inviting people to become investors and join as partners in the firms, which were limited liability partnerships.

This was an unexpected side effect of the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008, a former union minister in the United Progressive Alliance government said on the condition of anonymity.

The matters were compounded, said the former union minister, after the Reserve Bank of India decided not to allow Islamic banking in the country in 2017.

A senior official who was part of the State Level Coordination Committee said there was little officials could do. “One cannot pre-emptively take action against companies that for all practical purposes functioned as legitimate ones,” the official said.

The SLCC authorised Bengaluru North Assistant Commissioner LC Nagaraj to look into the matter. “I put out a public notice in newspapers calling on investors in these firms to come forward and lodge complaints. However, not a single complaint was lodged against IMA,” he said.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jun 15, 2019 01:19 IST