Trouble mounts for Karnataka Cadre IAS officer B.M. Vijayshankar and two state service cadre officers as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeks prosecution sanction against them to probe into allegation of taking bribe in the IMA ponzi scam, a financial fraud, worth Rs 4,000 crore.
Sources said that the agency has sought prosecution sanction of IAS officer B.M. Vijayshankar, then Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore Urban, Karnataka service officer L.C. Nagaraj, then sub divisional officer Bangalore North Division and N. Manjunath, then village accountant and working under Nagaraj, from Karnataka government.
"Vijayshankar and Nagaraj abused their official position to receive illegal gratification from I Monetary Advisory (IMA) group, its promoters and directors to favour their company in an enquiry," said government source.
IMA scam came to limelight in 2018 and pertains to illegal collection of money from innocent people in the form of investments on various Ponzi schemes such as Monthly Plan, Education Plan, Marriage, etc. I Monetary Advisory (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 competent authority under Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments (KPID) Act, 2004 to probe the complaints against IMA group.
Local police after registering a case against IMA directors and promoters were also probing the case which was later transferred to the CBI.
"Reserve Bank of India and Indian government had sent letters to conduct enquiry and take appropriate action against IMA and its entities, director for violating the government rules and running the ponzi companies illegally and luring public to deposit money in their companies and misusing the large amount of money deposited by the investors," source said.
On enquiry, though it was found that the IMA and its entities were violating the government rules and illegally misusing large amount invested by public, Vijayshankar and Nagaraj "intentionally" neglected and submitted a report to the government in favour of IMA and its entities by obtaining "illegal gratification from IMA" and thereby helping IMA and its entities to continue their illegal activities.
It was further alleged that Manjunath, while working as village accountant entered into criminal conspiracy with Vijayshankar and Nagaraj and as per their directions acted as mediator and contacted IMA and obtained illegal gratification from himself and for them to favour the company.
During the probe it was found that Nagaraj received Rs 50 lakh 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 IMA group companies reached the office of Vijayshankar, he also demanded Rs 2 crore from IMA for forwarding a favourable report. After negotiation, he settled for an amount of Rs 1.50 crore, sources said. Manjunath also received a bribe for mediating the deal.
The three government officials' role came to notice during the CBI probe into the scam. 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.
The CBI found that these law enforcers allegedly took bribes to favour the financial fraud and then filed another FIR against these three accused people in 2019.
In the IMA scam case, the agency has filed two chargesheets against 22 accused and the probe is still on.
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