IMA Jewels fraud: Owner goes missing after suicide audio, hundreds of investors throng store in protest

Hundreds of investors thronged a prominent city jewellery store on Monday after an audio clip surfaced online, allegedly from founder-owner Mohammed Mansoor Khan, saying he is “tired of bribing corrupt politicians and bureaucrats”.

The owner was also into the chit fund business.

As soon the audio went viral, investors including a large number of women with their children started gathering at the IMA Jewels headquarters at Shivajinagar, demanding action against Mohammed Mansur Khan.

In the audio, the person is heard saying that he was committing suicide as he was fed up with corruption in the state and central government. He also accused the central and state officials of harassing him and compelling him to take the extreme step.

He also asks police to sell all his wealth and jewellery to pay investors and is heard accusing Congress MLA Roshan Baig of taking Rs 400 crore from him and not returning it. However, Roshan Baig denied the accusations in a tweet.

Investors claimed they had invested crores in the firm.

Police have deployed adequate force around the jewellery shop to prevent any untoward incidents.

Deputy commissioner of police of Bengaluru East division Rahul Kumar Shahapurwad appealed to investors to lodge complaints with police with whatever proof they have.

He also made it clear that they have no information about Khan and asked people not to jump to any conclusion.

Police suspect that at least 26,000 investors from across Karnataka have been cheated.

Karnataka Home Minister MB Patil, after holding a meeting of senior police officials, said, “Chief Minister has already decided that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has to be set up. This is a financial fraud. Firstly, we have to secure the owner, Mansoor Khan.”

MB Patil also said that they had seized all the IMA Jewels showrooms. “It’s not a bank deposit fraud because in Islam religion, it is considered sin to take interest on bank deposits. So, owner took all people as shareholders and investors,” Patil said.

“However, there has been malpractice. We have taken it very seriously,” Patil added.

Meanwhile, police have sounded alert at airport, bus-standand railway station to track the jeweller.

Police and investors said his mobile phone has been switched off and he is not traceable.

“…He has switched off his mobile phone and he is untraceable,” commercial street police inspector BK Shekhar said.

Gultaz Banu, an investor, claimed she had invested about Rs 9 lakh in the company.

“Since he was paying very high returns, we relied on him. I sold all my jewellery to deposit in his company. Today, I am left with nothing,” Banu said.

Another investor said, “I invested Rs 25 lakh last year and for nine months, I got returns but when elections started, they said that the inflow of money has been affected and requested us to wait for two months. Two days ago, we got a message from the owner saying he is committing suicide.”

Most of those who invested in the company belong to the minority community, working as autorickshaw drivers, beedi manufacturers, carpenters and street vendors, police said.

Two years ago, the income tax department had conducted searches at the IMA business establishments.

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