The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday filed an additional chargesheet against 28 accused persons, including five police officers, in connection with the multi-crore IMA scam. The police officers named in the chargesheet include IGP Hemanth Nimbalkar and DCP Ajay Hilori.
The investigation pertains to the I-Monetary Advisory, popularly known as IMA ponzi scam, in which thousands of gullible depositors were duped of their hard-earned money after being promised bumper returns.
The other officers named in the chargesheet include the then Inspector M. Ramesh and Sub-Inspector Gowri Shankar, working at the Commercial Street police station, and E B Sridhara, Deputy Superintendent of Police, CID Economic Offences Wing.
The CBI in its chargesheet stated that the accused did not take necessary action under the law, including the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment Act, 2004 (KPIDFE Act).
"Instead they had given clean chit and recommended closure of the complaints stating that the said private company had not indulged in any illegal act," the CBI statement read.
The IMA scam involves unauthorised deposits allegedly collected from a large number of depositors to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore. The illegal activities of the I-Monetary Advisory had continued unabated leading to several thousands of investors losing crores of rupees, the statement said.
It may be recalled that the CBI had registered four cases in connection with the said scam. The probe agency had earlier filed several chargesheets in connection with the scam.
The I-Monetary Advisory first came to the attention of the authorities in 2015 because of the large discounts that IMA Jewels was giving on purchases of gold in its stores, but nothing was done because of a legal loophole and inaction by the investors.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) suspected the company of being a ponzi scheme and tipped off the Revenue Department. However, the latter was unable to take action for two reasons: First, the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Act (PIDFE) only allowed action to protect the depositors, and an Islamic banking company is structured so that people paying money to it are legally partners in the business and not investors making deposits. Second, no-one actually complained as the company was still paying them.
The I-Monetary Advisory was a company co-founded in 2006 by Mohammad Mansoor Khan and a business partner by the name of Iliyas, which they gave the name Iliyas-Mansoor Advisory.
However, this company was not successful and was dissolved in 2008. Mansoor Khan's next company kept the same IMA initials.
Founded in 2013, according to records at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and contrary to claims made on the company's own website, the IMA Private Limited was presented as an Islamic banking company.
Mansoor Khan encouraged ulemas and other people with influence in the Muslim community to believe that it was a continuation of the same company founded in 2006 and was a successful business of several years' standing, promising them that the company would build hospitals and schools.
Under the umbrella of the IMA Group, it later diversified into other businesses, including jewellery, with the name IMA Jewels a.k.a. IMA Jewellers, IMA Builders and Developers founded in 2017, IMA Bullion and Trading founded in 2014, IMA Bullion in 2015, IMA Gold, Mulberry Greens, Frontline Pharma, Frontline Multispeciality Hospital, and publishing.