BENGALURU: Investigation into the Rs 1,500-crore
IMA scam took an interesting turn on Friday with the special investigations team (SIT) arresting Bengaluru
north assistant commissioner LC Nagaraj on charges of receiving Rs 4.5 crore bribe in order to give a no-objection certificate (NoC) to IMA Group founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan, who was trying to raise a bank loan.
Nagaraj, who till recently had openly claimed that he had made attempts to take action against Khan by slapping notices against him, has now been accused of misusing his official position and extorting money. Nagaraj had allegedly concealed facts about IMA and submitted a report favouring the company to the state government.
was picked up from Karnataka high court in the afternoon. Nagaraj, who was appearing in a civil matter in the court, was approached by SIT officials, who told him that they wanted to question him. The officer said he had to attend court proceedings and plainclothesmen hung around. After the proceedings, Nagaraj came out of the court hall and said he had to have lunch. SIT sleuths took Nagaraj to the high court canteen and whisked him away after he finished lunch. They carried out raids at Nagaraj’s house. He is to be produced before a magistrate later in the night or on Saturday.
SIT sleuths also arrested Manjunath, a village accountant, for allegedly helping Nagaraj in transacting with Khan. Manjunath has been remanded in police custody.
Nagaraj is the second senior government official to be arrested in the case. The SIT recently nabbed BDA executive engineer PD Kumar Nayak on charges of taking a bribe of Rs 4 crore from Khan. Nayak had reportedly said he’d help Khan’s company get a clean chit from the revenue department after the RBI put IMA under scanner. Nayak had allegedly taken the money from Khan stating he had to give it to a senior IAS officer, who had previously served as BDA chief. Sources said the IAS officer — whose name had earlier surfaced in a land scam that culminated in a minister’s resignation — did not take the bait this time.
“Though revenue officials issued notices to IMA, there were ulterior motives behind it. They were only bargaining with Khan, who was desperate to raise a bank loan to stave off pressure from investors seeking money,” SIT sources said. According to them, Nagaraj was close to the son of a senior politician, who had drawn flak from Bengalureans for mooting infrastructure projects with inflated costs for the city without conducting proper environment impact assessments.