Police search the former Minister’s Ballari residence and offices of the Obulapuram Mining Company
The Central Crime Branch (CCB) is on the hunt not just for mining baron and former Minister G. Janardhana Reddy, but also for the 57 kg gold bullion he allegedly received as payment from the proprietor of an investment firm. So far, however, the police have turned up empty handed on both counts.
A CCB team searched Mr. Reddy’s Ballari residence for over eight hours on Thursday. “Though the house is not being used by Mr. Reddy and his family, it continues to be a key operation base of his associates,” said a source, adding that the police initially suspected that the gold may have been hidden there.
The teams also searched the offices of Obulapuram Mining Company owned by Mr. Reddy and his brothers. But, both the former Minister and the gold have eluded them so far. Syed Ahmed Fareed, the proprietor of the investment firm Ambidant Marketing Pvt. Ltd., who was arrested last week for defrauding investors, has alleged that he paid Mr. Reddy ₹20 crore — ₹2 crore in cash and 57 kg of gold worth ₹18 crore. He claimed that he paid the mining baron for his help in getting an Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation against his firm closed.
The money was laundered through two jewellery firms into gold. Mehfuz Ali Khan, a key aide of Mr. Reddy, allegedly took delivery of the gold from Ramesh of Rajamahal Fancy Jewellers in Ballari in March 2018.
Mr. Fareed has been in the dock for cheating thousands of investors after he promised them high returns, but failed to deliver. It was while investigating the businessman that the police stumbled upon the payments made to Mr. Reddy.
The recovery of gold bullion from premises linked to Mr. Reddy will strengthen their case, the police hope. They are relying on the statements of Mr. Fareed and jeweller Ramesh from Ballari, who have alleged that they delivered the gold to Mr. Reddy through Mr. Khan.
The police are yet to question Mr. Khan, who was granted anticipatory bail on Wednesday. They say they expect him to deny the entire transaction.
“The CCB does not have strong corroborative evidence apart from the statements of the two accused in the case,” said a source. Senior police officials also expressed scepticism over the gold still being in that form. They suspect that it was converted into cash and spent.
“We are probing whether the gold bullion is still in the same form or converted. We are also investigating the trail, if the gold bullion was converted into cash,” said Alok Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime), Bengaluru, speaking to mediapersons at the CCB office on Thursday.