Bengaluru: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has decided to bring former minister R Roshan Baig and multi-crore IMA ponzi scheme prime accused Mansoor Khan face-to-face in a day or two. A senior CBI official from New Delhi told IANS that it is imperative for the probe agency to bring them face-to-face and seek clarification. “We have sought the CBI special court’s permission to take their custody again and inquire about their connections,” the official said.
According to him, the CBI on Monday evening moved an application with the court in this regard. Earlier in the day, the CBI conducted search operations in two properties of Baig and recovered a large quantity of incriminating papers. IMA co-founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan at the time of his arrest had alleged that Baig had cheated him of Rs 400 crore and forced him to give expensive cars and jewellery as “gifts”. He had also named some other government officials.
“The CBI is probing allegations. We need to know where and how such quantities of money were transacted. Was it cash or kind or both is the primary concern for the investigators. Therefore, we are planning to bring them face-to-face,” the source explained.
Since the scam broke, Baig had been publicly rejecting Khan’s charges, claiming that except for some donations to Haj facilitation centres, he did not accept any money.
Over 51,500 depositors are said to have lost approximately Rs 2,500 crore collected by IMA and its subsidiaries in the ponzi scheme. During investigations in 2019, the police found documents in which the prime accused in the IMA scam, Khan, had recorded payments made to politicians, policemen, and government officials. It showed Baig as a key recipient of funds.
The source said that the CBI is likely to attach Baig’s properties in order to repay the money to the investors as Khan allegedly claimed that he was forced to pay crores of rupees to Baig in order to keep the business going.
Khan had fled the country but was arrested and brought back from Dubai in July 2019 by the Bengaluru police crime branch. Khan had released a video while he was in hiding, wherein he claimed that several state politicians and officials had coerced him into paying bribes, leading to the downfall of IMA. One of them, who he claimed had received nearly Rs 400 crore, was Baig, the then Congress MLA from Shivajinagar in central Bengaluru.
After the video was uploaded on YouTube, Baig was detained by the SIT as he had tried to board a private charter plane to a foreign country
The SIT had alleged that Baig was trying to flee the country. When the scam broke out in 2019, the then Karnataka Revenue Minister, RV Deshpande, had said that Baig had introduced him to Mansoor Khan in July that year, asking for favours to not investigate the company’s dealings as suggested by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Baig, a seven-time MLA from Shivajinagar, was denied a BJP ticket for the bye-polls held for the Shivajinagar constituency in December 2019 on account of his links with the IMA scam.
Baig, who began his political career in the Janata Parivar as the home minister of state, is a contemporary of opposition leader Siddaramaiah. Soon after a stint as minister in the Janata Parivar, he joined the Congress in early 90s. He quit the party on an acrimonious note after his tussle with Siddaramaiah and then Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president Dinesh Gundu Rao in 2019.
It may be recalled that Baig was among the 17 MLAs of the erstwhile JD(S)-Congress coalition government, who resigned and paved the way for the formation of the current BS Yediyurappa-led government in the state.