By Anand Singh
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday said that it has filed a chargesheet against two government officials in Karnataka in connection with its probe into the IMA ponzi scam, a financial fraud to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore.
A senior CBI official here told IANS: “The CBI has filed a chargesheet against L. C. Nagraj, then Assistant Commissioner and N. Manjunath, then village accountant.”
The official said that in the chargesheet it has been alleged that Nagraj received a bribe of Rs 4.5 crore while Manjunath received a bribe of Rs 10 lakh from the IMA and its Directors for extending favours. The agency filed the chargesheet against the two after obtaining the sanction from the Karnataka government to prosecute them in the IMA ponzi scam, the official added.
He said that the third chargesheet was filed last week in a Special CBI court in Bengaluru. “Nagraj has given clean chit to IMA and its Directors in an enquiry conducted by him and as a quid pro quo he accepted the bribe from the IMA and its directors.”
Manjunath liased between Nagraj and the IMA directors to settle the inquiry, the official added.
The CBI in June this year had sought sanction from the government to prosecute Karnataka Cadre IAS officer B.M. Vijayshankar and two state service cadre officers over allegations of taking bribes in the IMA ponzi scam.
According to the CBI officials, the agency had sought prosecution sanction for IAS officer B.M. Vijayshankar, then Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore Urban, Karnataka service officer Nagaraj, then sub divisional officer Bangalore North Division and Manjunath, then village accountant and working under Nagaraj, from the Karnataka government.
The CBI official said that Vijayshankar and Nagaraj abused their official positions to receive illegal gratification from I Monetary Advisory (IMA) group, its promoters and directors to favour their company in an inquiry.
The IMA scam came to light in 2018 and pertains to illegal collection of money from innocent people in the form of investments in various Ponzi schemes such as Monthly Plan, Education Plan, Marriage, etc. The IMA was planned and executed by group head Mohammed Mansoor Khan, who was deported from Dubai and was arrested by the probing agencies.
When the scam came to light Vijayshankar and Nagaraj were nominated as the competent authority under the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments (KPID) Act, 2004 to probe the complaints against the IMA group. Local police after registering a case against the IMA directors and promoters were also probing the case which was later transferred to the CBI.
The CBI officials alleged that during investigation it was found that the IMA and its entities were violating the government rules and misusing large amounts of money invested by the public, while Vijayshankar and Nagaraj “intentionally” neglected and submitted a report to the government in favour of the IMA and its entities by obtaining “illegal gratification from IMA” and thereby helping the IMA and its entities to continue their illegal activities.
It was further alleged that Manjunath, while working as village accountant, entered into a criminal conspiracy with Vijayshankar and Nagaraj and as per their directions acted as mediator and contacted the IMA and obtained illegal gratification for himself and for them to favour the company.
During the probe it was found that Nagaraj received Rs 50 lakh as bribe in November 2018. Later in the first week of March 2019, he received Rs 2 crore twice – totalling Rs 4 crore — as illegal gratification through Manjunath.
After that the file pertaining to the IMA group companies reached the office of Vijayshankar, who demanded Rs 2 crore from the IMA for forwarding a favourable report. After negotiations, he settled for Rs 1.50 crore, sources said. Manjunath also received a bribe for mediating the deal.
The three government officials’ role came to light during the CBI probe into the scam. The CBI had formed a 12-Member Multi Disciplinary Investigation Team (MDIT) comprising of its investigators who are being assisted by Chartered Accountants, Forensic Auditor, Computer Forensic Experts and Bankers.
This is the third chargesheet in the IMA scam case by the CBI. The agency had filed two chargesheets earlier against 22 accused.
(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])