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CBI: Karnataka officer received Rs 4.5 cr to settle probe against IMA




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.


Anil Deshmukh once again skips ED summons




Former Maharashtra Home Minister and senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh, who is being probed in an alleged money laundering case, skipped the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons for questioning once again on Monday.

“Deshmukh has skipped summons and has sent a two-page letter to the agency through his advocate,” an ED official related to the probe told IANS.

This is for the third time Deshmukh has skipped ED summons in connection with the case. The official said the financial probe agency had sent fresh summons to Deshmukh and his son Hrishikesh Deshmukh on Friday asking them to join the probe with the agency on Monday.

On Friday, the Supreme Court did not grant any protection from arrest to Deshmukh on his plea seeking protection from any “coercive action” in the money laundering case registered against him by the ED and scheduled the matter for hearing on August 3.

Deshmukh, who had skipped the previous summonses by the agency, had, in the plea to the top court, challenged these summonses and sought protection for both himself and his son.

Deshmukh has been accused of extortion from a bunch of Mumbai orchestra bars and money laundering, and the matter is being probed by the ED.

It has been alleged that Rs 4.7 crore was collected as “extortion” from the orchestra bars by the now-dismissed Mumbai police officer Sachin Waze allegedly on Deshmukh’s instructions.

Later, this amount was transferred to Deshmukh’s Nagpur-based educational trust by his son, Hrishikesh.

According to the allegation, the transaction was routed via two hawala operators and was showed as a “donation”.

The 71-year-old NCP leader is the president of the trust and his two sons, Salil and Hrishikesh, are trustees.

On May 11, a case was registered against the former minister and on June 25, the ED raided Deshmukh’s residences in Nagpur, Mumbai, and three other places.

In April, the CBI had conducted raids at four premises of Deshmukh after registering an FIR against him in connection with the case.

Param Bir Singh, former Commissioner of Mumbai Police, in his letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleged that Deshmukh had indulged in “malpractices” and asked Waze to collect Rs 100 crore every month.

Earlier this week, the top court had adjourned the matter for a hearing on Friday and asked Deshmukh’s legal counsel to provide a copy of the plea to the ED and the Maharashtra government.

The ED had earlier arrested Deshmukh’s personal secretary Sanjeev Palande and personal assistant Kundan Shinde after carrying out raids against them and the NCP leader in Mumbai and Nagpur.

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Shilpa Shetty Kundra: We don’t deserve a media trial





Actress Shilpa Shetty Kundra took to social media on Monday to issue a statement, saying she and her family do not deserve a media trial.

Shilpa’s statement comes at a time when her husband, businessman Raj Kundra has been granted judicial custody till August 10 in a case pertaining to alleged production and distribution of porn content.

The actress said she will not comment on the case as it is subjudice and also requested the media for some privacy saying the past few days have been challenging for her “on every front”.

Shilpa shared her statement on Instagram on Monday, which reads: “Yes! The past few days have been challenging, on every front. There have been a lot of rumours and accusations. A lot of unwarranted aspersions on me cast by the media and (not so) well wishers as well. A lot of trolling/questions posed…not only to me but also to my family.”

“MY STAND…I HAVE NOT COMMENTED YET and will continue to refrain from doing so on this case as it is subjudice, so please stop attributing false quotes on my behalf. Reiterating my philosophy of, as a celebrity ‘Never complain, never explain’. All I will say is, as it’s an ongoing investigation, I have full faith in the Mumbai Police & the Indian judiciary,” she added.

“As a family, we are taking recourse to all our available legal remedies. But, till then I humbly request you – especially as a MOTHER – to respect our privacy for my children’s sake and request you to refrain from commenting on half-baked information without verifying the veracity of the same,” Shilpa further wrote.

“I am a proud law-abiding Indian citizen and a hardworking professional for the last 29 years. People have put their faith in ME & I’ve never let anyone down. So, most importantly, I request you to respect my family’s and ‘my right’ to privacy in these times. We don’t deserve a media trial. Please let the law take its course. Satyamev Jayate!” she concluded.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s statement talking about her “right to privacy” comes just a few days after the Bombay High Court reportedly refused to restrict media and social media platforms from publishing reports which talk about her. The court reportedly told the Bollywood actress that she has chosen a public life.

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41,134 new Covid cases, 424 deaths in India in 24 hrs




India on Monday reported 41,134 fresh Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours with 424 deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data showed.

India is registering less than 50,000 daily new cases for 36 continuous days. However, the country has registered marginal decline in fresh Covid cases than Sunday.

On Sunday, India had recorded 41,831 fresh cases of Covid-19. With 424 more Covid fatalities, India’s cumulative death toll now stands at 4,24,773.

India’s active caseload has crossed the four lakh mark and stands at 4,13,718. India’s recovery rate currently stands at 97.35 per cent, however, the active cases constitute 1.31 per cent of the total cases. The weekly positivity rate remains below 5 per cent and is currently at 2.30 per cent. The daily positivity rate continues to remain below 5 per cent for 55 continuous days and currently stands at 2.81 per cent.

The government has advised the states to restrict the gatherings in the districts reporting over 10 per cent positivity rate.

According to the government data, a total of 36,946 patients were discharged from hospitals and health centres in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cured to 3,08,57,467 to date as the virus continues to infect less than one lakh people for the last 54 days.

The Health Ministry data said that a total of 17,06,598 Covid vaccine doses were administered in the last 24 hrs taking total jab count to 47,22,23,639 so far.

In a tweet, Health Ministry on Sunday said that India had achieved landmark in vaccination drive against the Covid pandemic and has successfully jabbed over 47 crore people across the country.

The total number of samples tested so far has reached 46.96 crores as on Aug 2.

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