The deputy general manager (corporate finance and treasury) of Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), his wife and two other women have been arrested for allegedly siphoning off Rs 62 crore from the privately-held conglomerate.
Bengaluru Central division police identified Sandeep Gururaj, 38, who started his career as a management trainee and rose to the position of DGM in the company, as the alleged mastermind of the fraud. He was charged with moving funds from different bank accounts, including private accounts of MEMG managing director Ranjan Pai and his wife Shruti Pai, to a few fake companies and bank accounts opened at foreign locations.
Sandeep’s wife Charusmitha PS alias Smitha, 30, a resident of Dr Shivaram Karanth Road in the city’s Chikkakallasandra, Amritha Chengappa, 34, of Mumbai’s Andheri (West), and her mother Meera Chengappa, 59, from Koramangala 7th B Main in the city, were the others arrested.
Police are also searching for another accused, Vishal Somanna, a pilot with Qatar Airways. Deputy commissioner of police D Devaraja told reporters that the arrests were made following a complaint from MEMG CEO Vaitheeswaran Sabout financial irregularities in the company and the alleged involvement of an insider.
“Financial frauds in the company had reportedly gone unnoticed for three years. Annual auditing exercises failed to expose the fraud as the accused were successful in cover-up,” Devaraja said.
Gururaj, a chartered accountant, joined the Manipal Group in 2004 and succeeded in winning the confidence of the owners. Being the head of corporate finance and treasury, he had access to the company’s accounts and those of Ranjan Pai and wife Shruti. As he wanted to strike it big and knew how the internal processes worked, Gururaj allegedly created fake companies and opened bank accounts in the name of such companies in Singapore, Mauritius, Qatar and Bengaluru.
He moved Rs 18.9 crore to his friend Vishal Somanna’s Doha bank account besides investing in the share market and real estate. Somanna had allegedly transferred the money to the accounts of Amritha and her mother Meera Chengappa. Gururaj bought properties in Padmanabhanagar, Anekal, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Doddakallasandra in the city, Srirangam in Tamil Nadu and Thane in Maharashtra. The fraud would have gone unnoticed if not for the confirmation calls by a bank when money was being transferred. “Banks send an alert and call customers to confirm cash movement from their accounts.
In this case, banks followed protocol. In one instance, Gururaj misled the bank authorities stating Ranjan Pai was in a conference and had sent a letter authorising the transaction. But Gururaj ran out of luck when the officials directly contacted Ranjan Pai to confirm the transaction,” said police. Suspecting foul play, the company ordered an internal probe.