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Mining baron Janardhana Reddy turns up for questioning in alleged bribe case

Reddy is under probe by Bengaluru crime branch for possible links to a man accused of running a ponzi scheme. Syed Ahmed Fareed, who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate for the 600 crore scam, has claimed that he paid Rs 18 crore to Reddy for “help” in settling the ED case.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2018 00:11 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Former Karnataka legislator G Janardhan Reddy in New Delhi.
Former Karnataka legislator G Janardhan Reddy in New Delhi.(PTI File Photo)
         

Ballari mining baron and former Karnataka minister G Janardhana Reddy appeared for questioning in Bengaluru in an alleged bribery case on Saturday.

Before turning up at the central crime branch office, Reddy, who is under its probe for possible links to a man accused of running a ponzi scheme, released a video, saying he had “not committed any wrong”.

He also rubbished media reports that he had fled to Hyderabad or some other city, reported PTI.

“I have not committed anything wrong. The police do not have a single document to prove that I am wrong. They are misleading the media,” he claimed in his video message telecast by TV channels.

Reddy, who was a minister in the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, claimed his name neither figured in the first information (FIR) report, nor was any notice served to him. “Now that the notice has been issued by the police, I have decided to appear before the central crime branch today itself though the notice says I should appear on Sunday,” he said.

“I decided to make this video to let people know the truth. I have faith in the police and believe that they would not succumb to any political pressure,” he added.

Ponzi scam Syed Ahmed Fareed, who is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate for the 600 crore scam, has alleged that he paid Rs 18 crore to Reddy for “help” in settling the ED case, the Bengaluru police had said.

According to the police, Fareed allegedly cheated around 15,000 people to the tune of Rs 600 crore through his company Ambidant Marketing Finance Ltd by promising them 40-50% interest on investment. After a complaint was filed against him by some members of the public last year, raids had been conducted on his offices and residences by the Enforcement Directorate earlier this year and his bank accounts were frozen.

Bengaluru police commissioner T Suneel Kumar said on Wednesday that the city police’s Central Crime Branch had been conducting a parallel investigation into Fareed’s affairs, based on the complaints it had received

“While the probe was going on, the officials came across a particular transaction of Rs 18 crore. Upon investigation it was found that the money was transferred from Ambidant to Ramesh Kothari, who runs a bullion business called Ambika Jewellers,” Kumar said.

Upon being questioned, Kothari claimed he had given 57 kg of gold to Ramesh, who runs Rajmahal Jewellers, and Ramesh alleged that he, in turn, had handed over the gold to Reddy’s assistant Ali Khan, he added.

According to the police, Fareed said he paid the amount because he was promised by Reddy and others that they would “help him out” with the ED’s case. Some meetings had allegedly taken place between Reddy, Ali Khan and Fareed, police said.

While Kothari was questioned, Fareed and Ramesh of Rajmahal Jewellers have been arrested, the police said.

The Ballari satrap

Reddy, the eldest of the Reddy brothers from Ballari, is no stranger to controversy, having been accused of illegally mining iron ore in Karnataka. And although the Central Bureau of Investigation had dropped some cases against him last year, the then Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had constituted a Special Investigation Team to reopen some cases.

Reddy was jailed for around four years in connection with the cases and continues to be banned from entering Ballari district. He had rented out a house on the outskirts of the district in Molkalmuru, from where his close aide Sreeramulu contested and won in the May assembly elections.

In 2016, Reddy had stirred up controversy after allegedly spending Rs 500 crore on a lavish wedding he threw for his daughter with the venue decked up to resemble Hampi. This was just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.

Two weeks ago, Reddy courted controversy yet again, when he seemed to suggest in a TV interview that the former chief minister Siddaramaiah’s elder son had passed away because he had separated Reddy from his children by getting him sent to jail.

First Published: Nov 10, 2018 16:17 IST

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