The Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths are on the lookout for Ballari’s mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy and his personal assistant Ali Khan over their alleged involvement in a money laundering case. Fearing that Reddy may flee the country, police have collected his passport details and are seeking legal opinion to issue a lookout notice against him.
Police are set to question Reddy in a case where his assistant is said to have received 57 kilogram of gold bullion worth Rs 18 crore from a jeweller based in Ballari.
CCB sleuths learnt about Reddy’s involvement while they were investigating into a ponzi scam where a company based in DJ Halli in Bengaluru, named Ambidant, had cheated its investors to the tune of Rs 600 crore.
Around 21 cases were registered against the firm and three cases registered against its owners, a father-son duo identified as Syed Fareed Ahmed and Syed Afaq Ahmed. The cases were registered in 2017 and both the accused were arrested and later released on bail. The firm promised investors high returns — up to 40% to 50% interest rates. It initially gave them good returns, and later when the customer base and investments grew, they cheated their clients.
The Enforcement Directorate had conducted raids on the company after the allegations and the cases cropped up. As the cheated amount ran over Rs 600 crore and around 15,000 investors were duped, the case was transferred to the CCB. During the course of the investigation, the CCB sleuths stumbled on numerous bank accounts held by Fareed and Afaq. Fareed had around 12 accounts. A particular transaction of Rs 18 crore from his account to a city-based jeweller’s account raised suspicion.
The sleuths identified the jeweller as Ambika Sales Corporation and questioned Ramesh Kothari, its proprietor to whom gold bullion worth Rs 18 crore was transacted. Kothari told police that he had purchased gold bullion from a jeweller based in Ballari identified as Ramesh, the owner of Rajmahal Fancy Jewellers.
He also said the gold bullions weighed 57 kg. The police trailed the transactions and questioned Ramesh who alleged the gold bullions were handed over to Ali Khan, Janaradhana Reddy’s personal assistant (PA).
The CCB sleuths also stumbled upon some photographs on Fareed and Afaq’s phone of their meeting with Janaradhana Reddy at Taj West End Hotel in Bengaluru in March 2018 facilitated by one Brijesh Reddy, a realtor and a resident of HSR Layout. “We are yet to recover the gold from Ali Khan who is absconding and we will question Janaradhana Reddy over the alleged money laundering,” said T Suneel Kumar, city police commissioner.
Asked why the mining baron’s involvement in money laundering comes a day after Ballari bypolls, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar said, “If we had disclosed Reddy’s involvement earlier, the issue would have been politicised. Hence, we chose to follow the instructions of our superiors.”
CCB sources hinted Janaradhana Reddy took Rs 18 cr from Ambidant’s Fareed and Afaq to bail him out of cases against him with the police and the ED. The deal was struck at Taj West End Hotel facilitated by Brijesh Reddy for Rs 20 crore, out of which Fareed had paid Janaradhana Reddy’s PA Ali Khan gold worth Rs 18 crore.