A prominent Muslim cleric was arrested yesterday by the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the Rs 1,350-crore IMA Jewels scam. He claimed he was "in no way connected with the IMA" but investigating officials said Maulana Haneef Afsar Azeezi was gifted a house worth Rs 3 crore by Mohammed Mansoor Khan, the alleged scam operator, in return for money-laundering services.
According to the SIT, Haneef Afsar Azeezi helped IMA Jewels and Mansoor Khan, who is absconding, by declaring the return earned from investments as "halal (pious)".
Nearly 40,000 complaints have been filed by investors persuaded to believe a good return on their investment was acceptable under Islamic beliefs. The company had promised to share profits and losses but did not have a fixed interest amount.
Haneef Afsar Azeezi is the Imam of Beyopari Mosque in Bengaluru.
On Tuesday the SIT served a notice to suspended Congress leader Roshan Baig shortly after the legislator resigned from the Karnataka assembly.
The Karnataka BJP has demanded an investigation by the Central Bureau of investigation (CBI), alleging that state police's actions could be hampered by the fact several other Congress leaders, apart from Roshan Baig, knew Mansoor Khan.
A delegation of BJP lawmakers met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last month to raise the issue.
Prior to the arrest of Haneef Afsar Azeezi, the SIT arrested five others, including BM Vijay Shankar, the deputy commissioner of Bengaluru (urban district), and LC Nagaraj, assistant commissioner of Bengaluru North sub-division.
Vijay Shankar got Rs 1.5 crore and, LC Nagaraj received Rs 4 crore to cover up the case and issue favourable reports after the Reserve Bank of India expressed concerns.
Syed Mujahid, a nominated Bengaluru corporator and a close aide of minority welfare minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan, was arrested earlier this month.
A blue corner notice was issued by Interpol against Mansoor Khan last month. A blue corner notice is an inquiry notice issued to locate, identify or obtain information on a person of interest in a criminal investigation.