THE CENTRAL Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Sunday night arrested former Karnataka minister Roshan Baig, who shifted allegiance from the Congress to the BJP last year, in connection with the Rs 4,000-crore I Monetary Advisory (IMA) Group ponzi scheme in which he is alleged to have received several crores of swindled funds.
Baig, who was arrested after over seven hours of questioning, was produced at the home of a special CBI judge, who remanded him in 14 days’ judicial custody, sources said.
More than 40,000 investors, mostly from the Muslim community, were duped of their savings — to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore — by the ponzi scheme operated by the IMA Group of arrested businessman Mohammed Mansoor Khan.
Baig’s name emerged when the scam surfaced nearly 18 months ago and Khan fled the country before being arrested and brought back from Dubai in July 2019 by the Bengaluru crime branch police.
In a video released while he was in hiding, Khan had claimed that several state politicians and officials had coerced him into paying bribes, causing the IMA’s downfall. One of the persons, who he claimed had received nearly Rs 400 crore, was Baig, who was the then Congress MLA from Shivajinagar constituency in central Bengaluru.
During investigations in mid-2019, police found documents in which a key associate of Khan had recorded payments made to politicians, policemen, and government officials. It showed Baig as a key recipient of funds.
Despite being named by Khan, Baig had managed to evade arrest in the early days of investigations by a Special Investigation Team of the police set up by the Congress-JDS alliance government that was in power until July 2019.
Baig crossed over to the BJP along with 16 other Congress and JDS MLAs in July 2019 and helped the BJP form a government under B S Yediyurappa by ousting the Congress-JDS coalition. Soon after coming to power, the BJP handed over the IMA scam case to the CBI in August 2019.
An Excel document in which Khan and one of his firm’s finance directors, Naveed Ahmed, maintained details of bribes they paid to people in government to keep their ponzi scheme afloat is one of the key documents that the CBI used to track the trail of the alleged illegal payments made by the firm.
“Names of several people are mentioned as receiving payments — ranging from Rs 400 crore to a politician to Rs 30 crore to a police officer. The investigations have not been able to find trails for all payments seen in the records kept by the official of the firm. In the cases of some people a trail has been found,” a source familiar with the probe had said earlier.
Baig, a seven-time MLA, was denied a BJP ticket for the bypolls held for the Shivajinagar constituency in December 2019 on account of his links to the IMA scam.
The CBI has chargesheeted two senior IPS officers — Hemanth Nimbalkar, an inspector general of police, and Ajay Hillori, a superintendent of police — and three other policemen who gave the ponzi scheme clearances. The police officers are alleged to have received bribes in excess of Rs 30 crore. A promotee IAS officer, B M Vijayshankar, who was arrested and charged for receiving a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore as the Bengaluru Urban Deputy Revenue Commissioner for clearing ponzi scheme, committed suicide a few months ago. Several officials from the revenue department have been chargesheeted.
The Enforcement Directorate is also investigating the scam.
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