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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

IMA ponzi scam: CBI gets state nod to press charges against 2 IPS officers

Under the ponzi scheme, valued at over Rs 4000 crore by the CBI, hundreds of depositors were swindled of their savings. It was allegedly backed by top politicians, police and state officials in Karnataka.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru | September 15, 2020 4:54:07 am
I Monetary Advisory (IMA) Group Founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan. (File)

The Karnataka government has granted the CBI sanction to press charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust on five police officers, including two senior IPS officers, for allegedly favouring a businessman, Mohammed Mansoor Khan, during a probe into a ponzi scheme run by his firm, I Monetary Advisory (IMA) between 2017-19.

Under the ponzi scheme, valued at over Rs 4000 crore by the CBI, hundreds of depositors were swindled of their savings. It was allegedly backed by top politicians, police and state officials in Karnataka.

The state government has given the CBI clearance to file a chargesheet against the five officers, including IPS officers Hemant Nimbalkar, currently additional commissioner of police (administration) in Bengaluru city, and Ajay Hillori, a commandant in the state reserve police.

Apart from the two IPS officers, three policemen of the rank of deputy superintendent, inspector and sub-inspector face charges of cheating, corruption and violation of the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment (KPIDFE) Act 2004.

In January, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa granted CBI the permission to investigate Nimbalkar, a 1998-batch IPS officer, and Ajay Hillori, a 2008-batch officer, in the matter.

The IPS officers are among officers who gave a clean chit to the ponzi scheme when complaints were lodged from various quarters.

The first clean chit was given by Bengaluru city police – specifically East Division police where Ajay Hillori was the DCP. This was followed by a clean chit under KPID Act given by the then Inspector General of Police at the Criminal Investigation Department in 2018. Nimbalkar was IGP at the CID at the time.

“There was a concerted effort on the part of various police officials to protect the interests of Mansoor Khan, MD and CEO of IMA, and of IMA instead of protecting interests of investors and depositors and accordingly they submitted improper inquiry reports and recommended no action against IMA and as a quid pro quo received bribes, valuables from IMA,” the CBI had stated while seeking sanction for prosecuting the police officers.

The IMA scam was initially investigated by a Special Investigation Team of Karnataka police and was handed over to the CBI after the BJP came to power in July 2019.

A CBI report to the state government said that investigations had revealed that Nimbalkar “received favours from Shri Mohammed Mansoor Khan in cash and kind” for protecting the interests of Khan and IMA.

Hillori allegedly “accepted illegal gratification on various occasions from Shri Mohammed Mansoor Khan through Shri Nijamuddin, Director and Operational Manager, IMA for favouring IMA by delaying the report to RBI and for not taking action against IMA on various complaints in connivance with other public servants”, the agency has reported to the state government.

The investigation also found evidence of payments made by IMA to a police inspector M Ramesh and a sub-inspector P Gowrishankar who allegedly closed complaints of cheating filed against IMA by depositors while they were working at the Commercial Street police station in Bengaluru, the CBI reported to the state government.

“These officers have allegedly failed in their duties in pointing out the glaring irregularities committed by the said group and gave clean chits. Investigation into the expenditure statements of the said private group has revealed the alleged payments of huge bribe amounts on multiple occasions by the Directors of the said Group to these officials,” the CBI said, while seeking sanction from the state government to press charges.

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