Bengaluru-based I Monetary Advisory Pvt Ltd (IMA), which was trying to ride on the success of Nowhera Shaik of Heera Gold, is now snowballing into a similar downfall.
According to desperate social media posts from investors and reports, Mohammed Mansoor Khan, managing director and chief executive (MD&CEO) of IMA, may be absconding after posting an audio-clip of committing suicide, claiming that he was 'tired of bribing corrupt politicians and bureaucrats'.
IMA, an Islamic banking and halal investment firm, has allegedly and illegally raised over Rs2,000 crore, mainly from Muslim investors with promised returns of 14% to 18% per month. It was also found guilty of diverting the funds raised from the public to its directors and defaulting on repayments.
Investors ought to have been alerted right then. But the promoter managed to fool people into believing that his legal team had swung into action and would set things right. But comments to our articles show that not everyone was fooled by the counter propaganda and alert investors were aware that balance sheets had not been filed for several years.
Things came to a head on Monday, 10th June, when hundreds of IMA investors gathered outside the company office in Shivajinagar at Bengaluru.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has ordered an inquiry into the alleged misuse of investors' deposits worth crores of rupees by IMA Jewels.
"A special investigation team (SIT) is being set up to inquire into complaints by hundreds of investors that IMA Jewels has stopped returning their deposits and paying hefty interest on them," state home minister MB Patil told reporters after a meeting with top police officials.
News agency ANI has been tweeting updates including action by the Karnataka government. One investor told ANI, “I invested Rs25 lakh last year and for nine months, I got returns but when elections started, they said inflow of money has been affected and requested us to wait for two months. Two days back we got a message from the owner saying he is committing suicide.”
According to a report from the New Indian Express
, before fleeing, Mr Khan posted an audio clip saying he would have committed suicide by the time people listen to the recording. The clip went viral, spreading panic among investors. The newspaper claims that it learnt that Mr Khan fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the evening of 8 June 2019.
Bengaluru police are investigating the audio clip that was also sent to the city police commissioner's mobile number from an unknown location to verify its voice and content as the person threatened to end his life if he was not saved from blackmail by the local legislator.
Mansoor Khan, MD&CEO, IMA
Quoting a senior police officer who did not want to be named, the report says, "He (Khan) fled to UAE on Saturday evening. There were many people enquiring about his earlier complaints and coming forward to register complaints. Getting a hint of this, Mansoor Khan managed to flee."
In a report, the Times of India
says, "the audio clip, reportedly addressed to the city police commissioner, Khan alleged senior Congress leader and Shivajinagar's member of legislative assembly (MLA) R Roshan Baig had refused to return the Rs400 crore he had taken and that there was a threat to his life. The police are yet to ascertain if Mr Khan has indeed ended his life and have intensified their search for the founder-owner and his family members."
"A first information report (FIR) has been registered against Khan and the investment firm's four directors on complaints by about 7,500 investors against them under sections 406 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)," a senior police official told IANS.
One Farhan Rasheed, who calls himself as an Indian Muslim Blogger, says the investors of IMA have been demanding refunds since past several months. In May this year too, a few investors had visited IMA's office and were told that they would receive their money. "First, it was 1st May, then it was 10th May, which was extended to 15th and then to 25 May 2019 (for repayments). If you deeply analyze the symptoms of IMA Gold today, Comparing Heera Gold, Injaz International, Ajmera, Aala Ventures, Ambidant Marketing, Muzariba, and Baraka...all companies had similar symptoms when they shut down. Don't you all still realise that IMA Gold is another Ponzi Company?" he says in his blog
Last year in November, the Karnataka government issued a notice to forfeit all movable and immovable properties of IMA and its promoters and directors. IMA has been found guilty of illegally collecting money from public, diverting the funds to its directors and defaulting on repayments. The notice issued by assistant commissioner has names of 16 entities, including IMA directors Nasir Hussain, Naveed Ahmed Nattamkar, Nizammuddin Azeemuddin, Afshan Tabassum, Afsar Pasha and Arshad Khan.
"Since it has come to the notice of the government that IMA and its associates have committed an offence by illegally collecting the money from the public and diverting the said funds to its directors' self-interest, thereby committed default in repayment of the depositors’ money. In this regard, several cases have been registered. As such, the government, exercising its power under Section 5 of the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishment Act, 2004, has appointed assistant commissioner, Bengaluru, north-sub division as the competent authority to forfeit movable and immovable properties of IMA and its associates, promoters, partners, directors, managers of members of any other person of the company," read the notice issued in local newspaper.
Launched in 2006, IMA claims to have presence in bullion trading, educational academies offering pre-primary to higher secondary education, credit co-operative and housing society, health care services and a multispecialty hospital, hypermarkets and supermarkets, infrastructure and real estate development, printing and publishing and retail sales of gold, silver, diamond & platinum jewellery.