(G.N.S) Dt. 14
Badmintan olympian Saina Nehwal, U-19 team coach, former indian cricketer Rahul dravid were among the celebrities who had parked their funds in a Bengaluru investment firm accused of cheating at least 1,776 investors of hundreds of crores of rupees, police said on Tuesday.
Top police sources said Dravid and his family members had invested 35 crore with the firm and managed to get back about 20 crore. Dravid himself accounted for investments worth 20 crore over the past six years and got 12 crore back, they added. Nehwal had reportedly invested around 1.5 crore and got back 75 lakh. Former Karnataka cricketer Avinash Vaidya also figures among the list of people who parked their money with Vikram Investments.
Dravid did not respond to queries till the time of going to the press. Media was unable to reach Nehwal, who is away in the UK for the All England Championships starting on Wednesday. Her family did not respond to queries on her reported investment.
Jayanagar ACP Srinivas H, who is heading the three teams formed to unravel the scale of the fraud by Vikram Investments, said the investors included Dravid’s wife Vijeta, brother Vijay and Vijay’s wife Bhavana Rao.
On Monday, police had registered 66 complaints against the Banashankari-based Vikram Investments. By Tuesday, that number went up to 160 as people landed up at police stations across the city to complain that they too had been cheated of huge sums of money.
The celebrities were all promised 23-35% returns a year. “Not one of these high-profile investors has yet complained to us about cheating. We will verify with them whether they were paid the promised returns by the firm,” another police officer said. Police said the firm paid the celebrities the promised returns, while defaulting on payments to others. The celebrities’ names were used to lure the others, they added.
We learnt about these celebrity investments during our interrogation of the accused, Raghavendra Srinath, founder of the firm, and Sutram Suresh, one of his wealth managers.” Narasimha Murthy, Prahalada and K C Nagaraj, all wealth managers, are the others arrested in the case.
Suresh, a former sports journalist and LIC agent, was in touch with several top sportspersons. Suresh compered public events and had gained their confidence, police said. “Our preliminary investigations revealed that Suresh himself had got around 760 people, most of them high-profile individuals, to invest in the firm. We have asked him to provide us the complete list of names of people who invested in the firm through him,” police said.
One of the three teams has been asked to collect details about the bank accounts of the accused and their properties. “We’ve given requisition to the State Bank of India to furnish complete bank statements of Srinath from its inception in 2008 till date,” the officer said, “We will write to the department of stamps and registration seeking the details of properties of the accused.”
(G.N.S) Dt. 14