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16 Sep 2019, 00:26 HRS IST
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  • K'taka Ponzi scheme fraud: 7 directors held, SIT formed

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20:32 HRS IST



(Eds: Updates with apprehension of directors)

Bengaluru, Jun 12 (PTI)
Seven directors of a firm at the centre of an alleged financial fraud that left thousands of investors in the lurch here were apprehended Wednesday even as a 11-member special investigation team was formed by the Karnataka government to probe the case.

The seven were picked up from different locations, highly-placed sources in the police told PTI.

Earlier in the day, the state government announced the setting up of the 11-member SIT, days after owner of IMA Jewellers Mohammed Mansoor Khan went absconding after allegedly threatening to commit suicide in an audio clip.

Police, who have registered a case against IMA Jewellers and Khan, said they have formed teams to trace him.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy tweeted on Wednesday, saying the SIT would be headed by Deputy Inspector General of Police B R Ravikanthe Gowda.

The other members of the team are Deputy Commissioner of Police (crime) S Girish, Additional Commissioner of Police of the Central Crime Branch Balaraju and deputy commissioners of police K Ravishankar, Raja Imam Kasim and Abdul Khadar.

The SIT will have five police inspectors too.

As the audio of Khan went viral, panicked investors, most of whom are Muslims, swarmed the IMA Jewellers office at Shivajinagar in thousands demanding action against the owner and directors.

The investors camped at IMA Jewellers' office for the third consecutive day Wednesday, waiting for some progress in the case and to build pressure on the police and the government to get their money back.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police Rahul Kumar Shahapurwad said so far about 13,000 complaints had been received against the firm.

Ten counters had been set up to receive further complaints, he added.

Khan in an audio clip which went viral on the social media purportedly said he was committing suicide as he was fed up with corruption.

He also alleged the Shivajinagar Congress MLA Roshan Baig took Rs 400 crore from him and was not returning it.

Rubbishing the charge, Baig alleged his political adversaries had orchestrated the "series of events" to tarnish his character.

"After my recent political fallouts, some of my adversaries have made a full-fledged attempt at assassinating my character by orchestrating a series of events using underhand methods. The entire hit job has been carried out using a baseless, un-investigated audio recording," he tweeted.

Baig, who aspires for a ministerial position, had recently rebelled against his party and held former chief minister Siddaramaiah and state Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao responsible for the party's poor show in the Lok Sabha election.

The Congress MLA urged the government to get the matter investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

He suspected the involvement of a Congress leader, who, he alleged, was sending people to mingle with the crowd gathered outside IMA Jewellers' office.

"I was informed that a good chunk of people seen at the protests outside IMA Jewels was mobilised to mix with the people who were actually aggrieved to intensify the situation by a politician who has been trying very hard to become the 'face of the community'," Baig tweeted.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too demanded a CBI inquiry.

"Is the government not able to see the sufferings of the investors? Doesn't it have eyes, ears and a heart? It should get the accused arrested if it has the guts or else, it should hand over the matter to the CBI," BJP MLA Eshwarappa said.

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