IMA scam: CBI names ex-BDA engineer, IMA chief in charge-sheet

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday filed a charge-sheet against seven people, including the then executive engineer of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), P.D. Kumar, and IMA CEO Mohammed Mansoor Khan, in connection with the multi-crore IMA ponzi scam case in Karnataka.

Besides Kumar, Khan and the IMA, the CBI also named IMA directors Nizamuddin Ahamed, Vaseem, Naveed Ahmed and Nazir Hussain in the charge-sheet, which it filed before the principal sessions judge for CBI cases in Bengaluru.

A CBI official said that during investigation, it was found that a bribe amount of Rs 5 crore was allegedly paid in four instalments of Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 1 crore, Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 1 crore during April-May, 2019 by the directors of IMA based in Bengaluru.

According to the CBI FIR, these amounts were paid on the instructions of Khan as part of the conspiracy hatched between him and Kumar in which it was decided that the then executive engineer of BDA would influence the officials of the revenue department of the Karnataka government to accept the closure report submitted by the competent authority and the then assistant commissioner, Bengaluru North sub-Division.

It alleged that the closure report was submitted in April 2019 to the revenue department. Khan was allegedly waiting for this closure report to be accepted.

It was further alleged in the FIR that Kumar was identified due to his old acquaintance with the senior officials of the revenue department of the Karnataka government. Kumar demanded Rs 5 crore with a promise to ensure the acceptance of the closure report. However, the said report was not accepted by the then principal secretary in the revenue department and instead it was sent to the law department. Not satisfied with the report, the department referred the report to the DGP, Karnataka, to conduct further enquiry into the matter.

It was also alleged that since the work was not done, Khan and the other directors put pressure on Kumar to return the bribe amount.

Kumar then allegedly returned Rs 30 lakh as per the books of accounts of the said IMA group and also issued two cheques of Rs 2 crore and Rs 2.5 crore as security till the return of the remaining bribe amount in cash.

The IMA scam involves unauthorised deposits allegedly collected from a large number of depositors to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore. The illegal activities of the I-Monetary Advisory had continued unabated, leading to several thousands of investors losing crores of rupees, the statement said.

It may be recalled that the CBI had registered four cases in connection with the said scam. The probe agency had earlier filed several charge-sheets in connection with the scam.

In October last year, the CBI had filed an additional charge-sheet against 28 accused persons, including five police officers, in connection with the multi-crore IMA scam. The police officers named in the charge-sheet included IGP Hemanth Nimbalkar and DCP Ajay Hilori.

The I-Monetary Advisory first came to the attention of the authorities in 2015 because of the large discounts that IMA Jewels was giving on purchases of gold in its stores, but nothing was done because of a legal loophole and inaction by the investors.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) suspected the company of being a ponzi scheme and tipped off the revenue department. However, the latter was unable to take action for two reasons: First, the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Act (PIDFE) only allowed action to protect the depositors, and an Islamic banking company is structured so that people paying money to it are legally partners in the business and not investors making deposits. Second, no one actually complained as the company was still paying them.

The I-Monetary Advisory was co-founded in 2006 by Mohammad Mansoor Khan and a business partner named Iliyas, which they named Iliyas-Mansoor Advisory.

However, this company was not successful and was dissolved in 2008. Mansoor Khan’s next company kept the same IMA initials.

Founded in 2013, according to the records at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and contrary to claims made on the company’s website, the IMA Private Limited was presented as an Islamic banking company.

Mansoor Khan encouraged ulemas and other people with influence in the Muslim community to believe that it was a continuation of the same company founded in 2006 and was a successful business of several years’ standing, promising them that the company would build hospitals and schools.