ED attaches assets of firm that cheated Dravid, others

ED attaches assets of firm that cheated Rahul Dravid, other celebs

Vikram Investments had received a total of Rs 417 crore from the public by promising improbable assured returns of up to 30-35% a year under the guise of commodity trading

Rahul Dravid. Credit: PTI file photo

Rs 35.7 crore. That’s the value of assets belonging to the scam-hit Vikram Investments and its associates to be attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The assets have been impounded by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the Ponzi scam that surfaced in March 2018. These include Rs 34.21 crore worth of immovable properties such as land, office space and flats in various parts of Bengaluru. Bank balance and fixed deposits to the tune of Rs 1.49 crore have also been attached.

Former cricketer Rahul Dravid, former badminton champion Prakash Padukone and several other celebrities are among 2,420 people to have been cheated by Vikram Investments.

According to a source, Vikram Investments had received a total of Rs 417 crore from the public by promising improbable assured returns of up to 30-35% a year under the guise of commodity trading. Of this, the firm paid around Rs 331 crore as “profit” and misappropriated the remaining Rs 86 crore, the source added.

The scam first came to light over three years ago when P R Balaji, a businessman from South Bengaluru who had invested Rs 11.7 crore, filed a cheating complaint with Banashankari police. An FIR based on Balaji’s complaint was registered on March 3, 2018. Balaji told the police that the firm did pay high returns initially but stopped the payments eventually. The principal was not returned either.

In all, 21 different FIRs have been registered against various individuals connected to the firm at police stations across the city. The case was later handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Police arrested the partners and associates of Vikram Investments, namely Raghavendra Srinath, K P Narasimhamurthy, M Prahlada, K C Nagaraj and Sutram Suresh, but they all got bail.

The Enforcement Directorate initiated an money-laundering investigation based on the FIR. According to the central agency, Vikram Investments did not have the necessary approvals from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) or any other regulatory agency to receive deposits from the public.

The firm paid insurance agents and other middlemen large commissions to lure prospective investors with the promise of high returns. It paid “handsome profits” to gain the investors’ trust and encourage them to invest more. The “profits” were paid as long as more investors came on board. But once the investments started dwindling, the firm struggled to pay the profit and eventually went bust. Many investors are yet to get back the principal.

According to the ED, Srinath had paid R Krishna, one of the investors, an improbable net profit of around Rs 35 crore.

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