Ballari's mining baron and former BJP minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, who is wanted in connection with an alleged bribery case, is missing, the Bengaluru police said today.
A businessman-turned-politician and one of the most powerful men in Karnataka, Janardhan Reddy, is facing multiple charges of corruption. The 49-year-old has spent three years in jail and has been out on bail since 2015.
The police said Janardhana Reddy - a minister in the BJP government headed by BS Yeddyurappa - is wanted by the Central Crime Branch of Bengaluru Police in connection with a Rs 18 crore bribery case.
The owner of a private enterprise, the Ambident Group, has alleged that during his days as minister, Janardhan Reddy had demanded Rs 18 crore from him, promising to bail him out of a corruption case. The money was paid to a close aide.
The Ambident Group, which deals in finance, has been accused of duping hundreds of investors and has a Rs 600-crore fraud case against it.
During interrogation by the police, its owner Syed Ahmed Fareed, allegedly said Janardhan Reddy had met him at a private hotel in Bengaluru and promised help.
Syed Ahmed Fareed has claimed his firm paid Rs 18 crore to one Ramesh Kothari, a bullion trader in Bengaluru, who gave it to a jeweler to convert it into 57 kg of gold. The gold was handed to Ali Khan, a close aide of Janardhan Reddy, the police said.
A hunt is on for Ali Khan and Janardhan Reddy, both of whom are absconding, said the police chief of Bengaluru, T Sunil Kumar.
Last year, there were allegations that he had laundered a huge sum of money ahead of his daughter's wedding in November.
Two of Janardhan Reddy's brothers - G Somashekara Reddy and G Karunakara Reddy - were fielded by the BJP from areas surrounding Ballari in the recent assembly elections in Karnataka.
BJP chief Amit Shah has repeatedly disowned Janardhan Reddy during the election campaign. But the former minister, who wields enormous influence in Ballari, had campaigned for the BJP candidate.
Yesterday, the party lost the Ballari parliamentary constituency to the Congress.
B Sriramlu, the BJP legislator and the most trusted lieutenant of Janardhan Reddy, said in Ballari today that "Law will take its course. I don't have full information. No one is above the law."