Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has said that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the state government to probe multi-crore IMA fraud case, has detained suspended rebel Congress leader Roshan Baig, for questioning in alleged connection with the case.
Taking to Twitter, Kumaraswamy informed that Baig was detained at BIAL airport while he was trying to leave for Mumbai on a chartered flight along with BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa's personal assistant named Santosh.
However, Santosh managed to flee from the airport after seeing the SIT but the team apprehended Baig.
"Today SIT probing the IMA case detained Roshan Baig for questioning at BIAL airport while he was trying to leave along with BS Yeddyurappa's PA Santosh on a chartered flight to Mumbai. I was told that on seeing SIT, Santosh ran away while team apprehended Mr Baig," Kumaraswamy said.
In another tweet, JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy accused Karnataka unit of BJP of helping a former minister escape, who is facing a probe in the IMA fraud case.
"BJP MLA Yogeshwar was present at the time there. It's a shame that BJP Karnataka is helping a former minister escape, who is facing a probe in the IMA case. This clearly shows BJP's direct involvement in destabilizing the government through horse trading," he said.
Baig, who was suspended from Congress for anti-party activities, had said on July 8 (Monday) that he would quit the party and join BJP. A day later, he resigned from his membership in the state Legislative Assembly.
Meanwhile, Karnataka unit of BJP has accused Kumaraswamy for using the state machinery to save his Congress-JDS coalition government in the state, which is on the verge to collapse due to its rebel MLAs.
"Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy is using the state machinery to save his govt now. Mr Roshan Baig was given time till 19th July to appear before SIT. This shows how the state Government is blackmailing and treating their own MLAs' using the institutions," the BJP Karnataka tweeted.
Refuting the claims that Yeddyurappa's personal assistant Santosh was travelling with Baig, the BJP said, "It is false that BS Yeddyurappa's PA Santhosh was travelling along with Mr Baig. The Chief Minister is peddling fake news and misleading the state. It was only Mr Baig who was travelling and there was no second passenger. We demand to check boarding passes and CCTV footage to put out the facts."
An 11-member SIT headed by DIG BR Ravikanthe Gowda was formed by the Karnataka government to probe the alleged fraud by the firm, which has an estimated Rs 200 crore investment from Muslim women alone.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will summon Baig, for his alleged links with Mohammad Mansoor Khan, promoter of IMA Jewels and prime accused in Ponzi scheme case, under investigation for duping 40,000 investors in the state, sources in the agency had said earlier. Khan had claimed that he paid Rs 400 crore to Baig which he was not returning.
The IMA Jewels is embroiled in a case where the firm had allegedly cheated a large number of investors after promising them impressive returns on their deposits.
Baig's role is under investigation as ED has got evidence of his connection with Mansoor Khan. Sources had told ANI that the expenditure of aircraft bills for the wedding of Baig's son was borne by Mansoor Khan, who is absconding after the scam surfaced.
Baig will be summoned and his statement will be recorded about the travel bills. He will also be asked about the Rs 400 crore which Mansoor Khan has claimed to have given to him, sources added.
ED is in the process of issuing a Red Corner Notice against absconding accused Mohammad Mansoor Khan and is also examining the possibility of invoking the Fugitive Offenders Act.
Mansoor Khan disappeared after sending an audio clip to some investors threatening to commit suicide due to what he alleged was "harassment" by some politicians and rowdies.
Khan, in that message, alleged that Baig had taken Rs 400 crore and was not paying back.
Baig had, however, refuted the allegation and termed it a "total conspiracy.