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Mining baron J Reddy under probe for alleged link with ponzi scheme accused

The accused in the ponzi scam in which thousands were cheated and is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate told police he had paid Janardhana Reddy Rs 18 crore after being promised of help in the case against him.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2018 20:23 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Janardhan Reddy,ponzi scam,Bengaluru
Mining baron and former Karnataka minister G Janardhana Reddy is being probed by the Bengaluru police after the accused in a ponzi scam alleged he had paid him a large sum of money for help in the case against him (File photo)(PTI)

Karnataka’s mining baron G Janardhana Reddy is being probed by the police 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 the influential mining baron for “help” in settling the ED case, the Bengaluru police 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 Fareed 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 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 said he had given 57 kg of gold to Ramesh, who runs Rajmahal Jewellers, and he revealed that he, in turn, had handed over the gold to Janardhan Reddy’s assistant Ali Khan, he added.

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

“The whole transaction hinges on this transfer of Rs 18 crore. Fareed says the amount was given in lieu of help in the ED cases. We have to verify if this is a fact,” Kumar said.

So far, Fareed and Ramesh of Rajmahal Jewellers have been arrested, and Kothari has been questioned, the police said.

Repeated attempts to reach Khan went unanswered.

The Ballari satrap

Reddy 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 caused a furore 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 07, 2018 20:13 IST