The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a case of money laundering in an alleged ponzi scheme in Karnataka, involving the IMA Jewels, which left thousands of gullible investors in the lurch, officials said on Friday.
The agency's zonal office in Bangalore has filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), equivalent to a complaint, and has pressed criminal charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the officials said.
The ED has taken cognisance of the complaint registered by the Karnataka police and the subsequent creation of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the alleged fraud, the officials said.
The agency is now gathering documents in the case and will soon summon few people, they said.
As many as 26,000 complaints have been been filed by the investors with the police against the, ''I Monetary Advisory (IMA) jewels'' store after an audio clip surfaced with a person named Mohammed Mansoor Khan, alleged to be its founder and managing director, heard saying he is going to commit suicide as he was fed up with corruption.
He had also alleged the Shivajinagar Congress lawmaker Roshan Baig took Rs 400 crore from him and was not returning it.
Baig had, however, rubbished the charge, alleging that his political adversaries had orchestrated the "series of events" to tarnish his character.
The state police had said they had received thousands of complaints against IMA Jewels and Khan, whose whereabouts are still not known, from investors who are mainly vendors, small businessmen and from middle and lower middle class.
State Home Minister MB Patil had said most of the investors in the now-feared defunct group were from the minority community.
Since drawing interest was prohibited in Islam, Khan had turned the investors into shareholders of his business and promised distributing the profit from his earnings, the minister said.
The police has said it has intensified its search to trace Khan.