The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has arrested a maulvi in connection with the multi-crore IMA Group Ponzi scheme of Karnataka.
According to SIT officials, Haneef Afsar Azeezi, a maulvi at the Masjid-e-Beparian in Shivajinagar, Bengaluru had allegedly misused the religious faith of the people and told them to invest in I Monetary Advisory (IMA). For the favour, the maulvi had received Rs 3 crore worth house from the IMA in 2017.
Girish S, DCP and the investigating officer from the SIT, told indianexpress.com, “Mohammed Mansoor Khan, the absconding founder of IMA, had gifted Azeezi a house worth Rs 3 crore at HBR Layout in exchange for luring people to invest in IMA.”
In messages, religious leaders said the company’s investment schemes were in line with Islamic beliefs. People also flocked to invest in IMA because of these factors. IMA, claimed to be involved in gold bullion trading, managed to flourish by calling itself as a ‘halal firm’ where investors are partners and not depositors like in the other firms.
As many as 40,000 investors have lost their earnings in the IMA scam. Earlier the SIT had arrested five others, including BM Vijay Shankar, the deputy commissioner of Bengaluru (urban district), and LC Nagaraj, assistant commissioner of Bengaluru North sub-division. Shankar allegedly issued a false report about the group in 2018, which allowed the company to dodge the seizure of its assets.
Shankar has been accused of taking a bribe of Rs 1.5 crore from the IMA Group to provide a favourable report at a time when investor complaints against the company were on the rise and revenue officials had initiated proceedings to seize the company’s assets. On November 16, 2018, the revenue department had issued a seizure notice.
On Friday, the SIT has recovered Rs 2.5 crore cash from Shankar and he has been remanded to judicial custody.