The Karnataka government on Tuesday ordered an inquiry into the alleged misuse of investors’ deposits worth crores of rupees by the city-based IMA Jewels firm.
“A Special Investigation Team (SIT) is being set up to inquire into complaints by hundreds of investors that IMA Jewels has stopped returning their deposits and paying hefty interest on them,” state Home Minister M.B. Patil told reporters after a meeting with top police officials here on the alleged Rs 500-crore scam.
The ‘fraud’ came to light on Monday when the posh showroom of IMA Jewels in the city centre did not open after a week-long closure for Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of Ramzan last week, amid reports that its Managing Director Mansoor Ahmed Khan had fled to Dubai or Saudi Arabia along with his family to escape the investors’ wrath as their savings were held up by his firm.
“A first information report (FIR) has been registered against Khan and the investment firm’s four directors on complaints by about 7,500 investors against them under sections 406 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC),” a senior police official told IANS here.
Panic also set in among hundreds of anxious investors who flocked to the showroom on Monday after an audio clip purportedly of Khan’s voice went viral on Whatsapp about a local Congress legislator harassing him to pay a Rs 400 crore ransom.
“We are investigating the audio clip that was also sent to the city police commissioner’s mobile number from an unknown location to verify its voice and content as the person threatened to end his life if he was not saved from blackmail by the said legislator,” the official said.
Congress legislator Roshan Baig, who represents the Shivajinagar Assembly segment in which the IMA Jewels office and showroom are located, however, denied asking Khan to pay up the money (Rs 400 crore).
With a majority of the investors from the Muslim community who deposited their hard-earned money for higher returns as IMA Jewels was reportedly offering 24-30 per cent interest per annum on their savings, a dozen Muslim leaders met Patil and asked for sealing of the firm’s office and seizing gold, jewellery, diamonds and cash in its showroom.
“As most of the investors are ordinary people, including women from all occupations, we are worried about the safety of their savings, which are meant for the education or marriage of their children. The state government should arrest Khan and get their deposits returned with interest,” state Food and Civil Supplies Minister Zameer Ahmed Khan told reporters after meeting with Patil.