A day after mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy was accused of being involved in a ponzi scam, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths investigating the case have raided his mansion in Ballari.
A team of Bengaluru CCB officers reached Ballari on Thursday morning, 8 November, and began searching Janardhana Reddy’s home.
The search operation comes a day after he was accused in a money laundering case. The police have accused Gali Janardhana Reddy of taking Rs 20 crore from the owner of Ambidant Marketing Pvt Ltd Syed Ahmed Fareed in order to strike a deal with Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials to drop the case against they were investigating against Ambidant.
A lookout notice for Reddy was also issued in all airports and harbours as there are suspicions of the Ballari strongman leaving the country.
A CCB source said that Syed Ahmed Fareed allegedly confessed to giving Janardhana Reddy Rs 20 crore, of which Rs 2 crore in cash and 57 kg of gold bullion worth Rs 18 crore by laundering it through two jewellery firms.
The source said that Syed Fareed was under the police lens for allegedly cheating hundreds of investors after promising them massive returns and then reneged. “It was during his interrogation that Syed confessed to ADGP Alok Kumar, who learnt that he had paid Janardhana Reddy. The CCB officers are now looking for the gold and hence they are searching Reddy’s house in Ballari,” the source added.
“Based on the information gathered the investigationis going on further...CCB is after Ali Khan and Janardhan Reddy.”T Suneel Kumar, Bengaluru Police Commissioner
The development comes after Reddy's close confidant Sriramulu's sister, J Shantha, a BJP candidate, lost in the by-polls from Ballari Lok Sabha constituency, considered a strong hold of the Reddy brothers.
The Congress won the seat breaking BJP's grip over Ballari since 2004.
However, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar said there was no political connection to the probe.
He said his team had been working on the case for the last 20 days, but waited till 3 November for the bypolls to be over for further action, so that it was not politicised.
Reddy, a Minister during the previous BJP rule, had been arrested by the CBI in 2011 over alleged multi-crore illegal mining scam and granted bail three years later.
Reacting to the latest development, Sriramulu claimed he did not have any information about the case and whereabouts of Reddy, but added and no one was above law.
“I don’t have complete information...I have been saying no one is above law. Let law take its own course.”Sriramulu
Detailing about the case, police said Fareed set up Ambidant around 2017 promising returns of about 40 to 50 percent for investment.
Responding to this, thousands of people invested their money into the company, which initially paid good returns, attracting more and more investors.
On the company failing to pay returns as promised, cases were registered against it, officials said, adding that, during January or February ED had also raided it.
They said, meanwhile, Fareed had met Reddy through Ali Khan requesting for help in bailing him out of ED the case, and Rs 20 crore was demanded in the form of gold through a jeweller known to them in Ballari.
Explaining about the investigation, the Commissioner said, during investigation CCB found a particular transaction of Rs 18 crore being paid by Ambidant to one Ramesh Kothari, who runs Ambika Jewellers in Bengaluru.
Kothari on questioning said he had given 57 kg of gold to a jeweller named Ramesh, who runs Raj Mahal Fancy Jewellers in Ballari. Ramesh had claimed that the gold was handed over to Reddy’s associate Ali Khan, he said.
He said there was no arrest warrant against Reddy, adding that CCB officials have conducted searches at a few places in Bengaluru and Ballari in connection with the case.
On reports about Reddy and associates trying to get anticipatory bail in Hyderabad, he said, he got to know about it only through the media.
Police said they have photographs of some meetings to prove Reddy's direct link to this case, about which they will seek clarification from him during investigation.
Reddy would soon be issued summons in the course of investigation.
Police said they have arrested Ramesh and gathered several 'crucial' documents from him.
Fareed was also arrested, but currently out on bail.
(This article was first published by The Newsminute. It has been republished with permission along with updates from PTI)