A Bengaluru jeweller has said in a controversial audio clip that he had paid bribes worth Rs 400 crore to several public figures and officials including dissident Congress leader Roshan Baig and state government officials. IMA Jewels owner Mohammad Mansoor Khan, who made the audio clip, threatened to commit suicide and has now fled the country for the UAE on Saturday last, June 8. 

People, who have invested their savings in the jewellery firm, said to be among Bengaluru’s largest, have said that they have been cheated by the firm. Many of these people thronged the firm’s premises on Tuesday morning. Khan’s audio clip targets Baig, who had charged state Congress leaders of cold-shouldering Muslims in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections 2019.

In the clip, Khan said he paid almost Rs 400 crore to Baig and said the Shivajinagar Congress leader took the money from him but refused to return it after he failed to get a ticket in the 2019 elections. In his reaction, Baig denied any involvement in the saga and said he will take legal action against Khan and his firm very soon.

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said the case has been handed over to the state Central Crime Branch after his discussion with Home Minister G. Parameshwara, also the deputy chief minister of the Janata Dal Secular-Congress alliance government. The BJP posted a photograph of Kumaraswamy with Khan on social media in a bid to milk the opportunity. The post teased the Janata Dal Secular-Congress alliance on the partners’ fidelity to one another. Kumaraswamy hit out at the BJP in response, saying the BJP resorts to misguiding and demeaning by using old pictures out of context. The BJP has been eyeing the tenuous link between the JDS and the Congress ever since it won 25 of the state’s 28 Lok Sabha seats. 

Owing to the jeweller’s recent flight to the UAE, many investors, most of them women who had vested their life savings into the firm, are now panic-stricken as they say they have been deserted by the firm which has continued to stay shut following the Ramzan holidays. An FIR has been filed against the jeweller after more than 3,000 complaints from angry investors. 

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