Trouble for VIPs who backed IMA

Investigators go after the big fish, even as an online 'claims management system' becomes functional 

Last Updated 17 August 2021, 07:06 IST

Depositors who have lost money in the IMA scam can file their claims on a website from today.

Harsh Gupta, IAS officer heading the authority that processes refunds, says depositors will be paid from property recovered from the company.

Harsh Gupta is an IAS officer now designated ‘IMA special officer and competent authority’. A special court will have to clear the decks for the auction of the company’s seized properties, he told Metrolife.

“The value of properties seized stands at Rs 475 crore. The principal investment, according to the audit, is Rs 2,900 crore. Since investors have received returns on their deposits, if that is taken into account, then the amount to be returned is about Rs 1,400 crore,” Harsh Gupta told Metrolife.

Officials have sezied gold, cash, buildings and land belonging to IMA. “There may be more properties to attach. It all depends on the investigation by the CBI,” adds Harsh Gupta.

Who’s a promoter?

The special officer has written to the government to say all those who have played a significant role in protecting, promoting the business operations of IMA and have derived benefits from it be considered promoters, even if they have held no formal office in the group like that of a director and managing

Roshan Baig can be considered as promoter, supported by additional material evidence gathered by CBI about the role he has played and the benefits he has drawn from the IMA, Harsh says. “Arrangements can be made for attachment of his personal property,” he says.

Kiosks offline

Depositors can stake claim at any of the service kiosks of the government with the help of designated operators, or do it online on their own.

The kiosks are located at Bengaluru-one/Karnataka-one/ Atalji Jan Snehi Kendra centres.

Claimants must have the customer ID or client number, provided at the time of making the deposit, Harsh Gupta says.

“We are doing away with the physical submission of documents and looking at getting everything done online,” he says.

Harsh Gupta expects the refund of deposits to take three to six months from the initiation of the process and on confirmation of the attachments of properties by the special court.

Why the delay?

The scam broke in 2019 in May, and the case was thereafter handed over to the CBI. Things are moving slowly because no committee was constituted to liquidate the assets and the investigation has been slow, a senior officer with the CID told Metrolife.

“Many depositors withdrew their money as soon as they heard about the scam. There are big names involved in this scam and this would have delayed the process,” says the officer.

The investigators have to follow the money trail and only then fix the liability, he explains.

High interest

IMA paid out interest as high as 12 per cent a month, or 144 per cent a year, as against a maximum of 9.5 per cent in nationalised banks.

“Mansoor kept the business going, but his system began to crumble because he had flouted all the RBI guidelines and had not sought permission for trading and investment,” explains the officer.

To cover up his illegalities, Mansoor started bribing government officials. “Many, including Roshan Baig, encashed his weakness. Baig will now be charged with conspiracy, abetment and harbouring of criminals.

He will be slapped with the same punishment as the offender,” says the officer. Baig received cash in lump sums to promote the business, he alleges.

New avatar

Scams like IMA are nothing but chit funds in a new avatar, says Kapil Gupta, director, Volon Cyber Security.

Many new scams are thriving on social media. “Only early action can result in recovery of the money,” he says.

Mind-boggling interest rate

Nationalised banks 9.5 per cent (maximum)
I Monetary Advisory (IMA) 144 per cent

Trying to get your money back?
Claimants can call 080 4688 5959 between 8 am and 8 pm. WhatsApp 79755 68880. Email splocaima20@gmail.com.
The IMA Special Officer and Competent Authority office is located on the 2nd Floor, BMTC Complex, Shanti Nagar.

Online claims
Depositors can file claims from November 25 till December 24 on the website imaclaims.karnataka.gov.in. They can upload all their documents here.

Scam snapshot
I Monetary Advisory was an investment company that ran a host of businesses, including jewellery stores and pharmacies. Launched in 2006 by Mansoor Khan, the Bengaluru-based company mainly targeted Muslims and convinced them to invest by saying it was paying dividend and not interest. The religious pitch, as well as the super-high interest it offered, lured about one lakh investors. The company went bust in 2019 when it was unable to pay interest to its depositors. Many politicians and government officials are in the dock for protecting and promoting the company. Two senior policemen are also under the CBI scanner. Mansoor Khan fled to Dubai, but was caught and has remained in judicial custody in Bengaluru for a year.

(Published 24 November 2020, 23:28 IST)

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