A government school in Bengaluru, partly administered by a private investment firm of the I Monetary Advisory group of companies, is facing problems with the group and its missing founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan accused of defrauding hundreds of investors through Ponzi schemes run by his firm.
The V K Obaidullah government school in central Bengaluru, which has nearly 1,700 students, was renovated and partly administered by the IMA Group under a memorandum of understanding signed with the Karnataka government in 2015. The IMA Group has claimed to have spent Rs 16 crore in developing the school under a three-year MoU renewed last year.
The school may lose funding after recent complaints by investors about default on payment of interest and return of deposits and the Congress-JDS government setting up a Bengaluru Police SIT to probe the group and its founder. More than Rs 1,000 crore in funding by nearly 45,000 investors is allegedly lost in the Ponzi schemes run by the IMA Group which had investments in real estate, jewellery, hospital and pharma sectors in India and parts of the UAE.
Some parents have alleged that they were forced to invest in the group as a pre-condition for admissions. The primary and pre-primary sections of the school are mainly affected.
“Since the IMA scam surfaced last week, the teachers recruited by the IMA Group have not been coming to work. Only government teachers are working,” said Mushtaq Ahmed, a local trader whose two children study in the school’s primary classes. “I will wait for a week and see if things improve, else I will look for a new school,” he said.
The IMA group employed nearly 90 teachers and staff while the state government has deployed 15 teachers. The group provided Rs 36 lakh to the school annually towards payment of salaries.
“We will approach the local MLA Roshan Baig to help us. It was under his initiative that the school was given to IMA. He was a former student,” said Ishtiaq Khan, father of a student.
However, a government-employed teacher said classes were being conducted on a regular basis.
P C Jaffer, Commissioner for Public Instructions, said additional teachers from government schools had been deployed to tide over the crisis.
In March 2018, the group founder threatened to withdraw support for the school after the Congress government refused to renew the three-year MoU. “IMA 3 year contract ends in April 2018. IMA spent 16 cr to build this 106-year-old school. When IMA Council requested the Govt. to handover full adoption from 1st to 10th Standard and renew the contract Education Department refused to do so and wants to convert VKO School in to BEO and DDPI office,” Mansoor Khan said in a social media post in March 2018. “IMA will withdraw itself from VKO School at the end of April as contract ends. Life of 1,700 students and 160 teachers futures in dark now and unfortunately people behind it none other than an enemy within education minister Tanveer Sait, education commissioner Jaffer Ahmed, DDPI Abdul Wajeed Khazi and education coordinator Noor Fathima,” he said.
Khan disappeared on June 8, two days after he was quizzed over the Ponzi scheme. In a video, he blamed Congress MLA Roshan Baig for his situation, accusing him of borrowing a large amount of funds and not returning it.
However, Shivajinagar MLA Baig said, “My association with IMA group is as a legislator and strictly on the basis of social work that was carried out in my constituency… Never did I endorse the idea of investing money in IMA. My association with IMA was for developing PPP projects in Shivajinagar and the proof of that is seen in the form of VKO school.”