Manipal fraud: Investigation at dead end, say cops

Manipal fraud: Investigation at dead end, say cops

Vishal Somanna

The investigation into the Manipal fraud case has hit a dead end, the police say.

According to the police, the UAE government, Qatar Airways and some banks in the city are not cooperating with the probe in connection with Vishal Somanna, the third accused in the case.

Sandeep Gururaj (38), former finance head of the city-based Manipal Group, along with his wife Charusmita, his lover Amrita Chengappa and Amrita’s mother Meera Chengappa were arrested on December 27, 2018, for siphoning off at least Rs 62 crore from Manipal Group’s accounts.

B Iyanna Reddy, the Cubbon Park police inspector investigating the case said prime accused Sandeep Gururaj had transferred more than Rs 52 crore to Somanna’s account on the pretext of investment, but banks were not cooperating with the police to freeze his accounts.

Somanna, a native of Kodagu, works as a pilot in Qatar Airways. D Devaraj, DCP (central), told DH they had written to the UAE government seeking Somanna’s custody, but there was no response.

“We wrote to Qatar Airways about the fraud committed by their employee, but we just got a reply saying they had informed him about the case and told him to appear before us. Somanna continued working with Qatar Airways as they did not even remove him from service. A lookout notice has been issued to all the airports seeking his arrest,” he said.

Meanwhile, a senior police officer said Qatar Airways replied to the mail because their office on Cunningham Road falls under Cubbon Park station jurisdiction.

Somanna had many joint accounts with his mother Meera Chengappa at various banks in the city. Gururaj would transfer Manipal Group money to accounts of Somanna and Meera. Meera, who had rights to operate the accounts, would route that money back to Gururaj’s personal accounts.

Somanna field an anticipatory bail application stating that if granted bail, he will come to India and cooperate with the investigation. But the bail application was rejected. The bail applications of three other female accused were rejected as well.

Police said the bail applications of Somanna’s sister Amrita and his mother Meera were rejected because he was absconding and had not surrendered to the police.