The searches carried out by the Lokayukta police at BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa’s office on Crescent Road in Bengaluru on 2 March have led the sleuths down a rabbit hole of corruption.
The Lokayukta sleuths learnt that the MLA’s office had multiple visitors that evening, some of them company representatives, and others who were “parking the bribe money” for Prashanth Kumar MV, the chief accountant-cum-financial advisor and CEO of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and — more importantly — Virupakshappa’s son.
The officers reportedly found that the visitors thronged the MLA’s office to pay “commissions/bribes” to Prashanth for tenders and contracts they had bagged with the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL), of which Virupakshappa was the chairman.
Soon after Kumar was allegedly caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of ₹40 lakh — the first instalment of the ₹81 lakh commission — on 2 March, the Lokayukta police registered an FIR mentioning the MLA as the first accused and his son the second and co-accused, along with four others.
Based on a complaint by businessman and contractor Shreyas Kashyap, the six accused — including the MLA — were booked under Sections 7, 7a, 7b, and 8, 9, and 10 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Soon after the case was registered, the Channagiri MLA Madal Virupakshappa went incommunicado, while his son and four others were arrested and remanded in judicial custody.
The Karnataka High Court granted interim anticipatory bail to Virupakshappa on Tuesday, 7 March.
New characters emerge
On Wednesday, the Lokayukta police registered two more FIRs, and Prashanth was named as the first accused in both. Others named in the FIR are “bribe givers” caught with huge amounts of cash.
One of the FIRs (Crime No. 13/2023) stated that the Lokayukta police found two men in the lobby of the MLA’s office on 2 March.
The men identified themselves as Albert Nicola (51), and Gangadhar (45), field officers of the Chamrajpet-based firm Karnataka Aramos.
The police said that on interrogation, the men revealed that the firm’s manager Deepak Jadhav had sent them to pay a commission to Prashanth.
The investigators found ₹45 lakh each in the bags the two men were carrying, the FIR said.
Documents about a company named Rawji Fine Fragrances Pvt Limited and tax invoices of Karnataka Aromas were also found in their possession.
The police seized the ₹90 lakh found in their bags and inquired about the source of the money. They reiterated that the firm’s manager Jadhav had asked them to hand over the money.
A case was registered naming Prashanth as the prime accused, Nicola as the second accused, Gangadhar as the third, and Jadhav as the fourth accused.
The representatives of Karnataka Aromas and office staff of KSDL were named as the fifth and sixth accused.
“Others will be summoned for questioning and their statements will be recorded,” a Lokayukta police officer told South First.
The second FIR
The other FIR (Crime No. 16/2023), also registered on Wednesday, stated that two persons were waiting in the MLA’s office on 2 March.
The men were identified as Siddesh alias Anil, 28, a resident of Bheemasandra in Chitradurga, and Surendra alias Sundar, an accountant with a private company in Chamrajpet.
Siddesh identified himself as a distant relative of Prashanth. The police reportedly found ₹60 lakh in his bag, and he could not reveal its source.
After seizing the cash, the investigators checked Siddesh’s bank accounts and found various transactions between him, Prashanth, and Surendra. Neither of the men could give satisfactory answers when asked about the transactions.
The FIR said Siddesh was the benami owner of Prashanth’s properties, and he used to carry the cash from the MLA’s office and invested it elsewhere.
Prashanth was the first accused in the case, and Surendra and Siddesh are the second and third accused, respectively.
After the search operations, the Lokayukta police said they had seized ₹2.2 core from the BJP MLA’s office and ₹6.1 crore from his son’s house in Sanjay Nagar.
The two FIRs registered on 8 March were based on complaints filed by BG Kumaraswamy, a police inspector with the Lokayukta.
Three FIRs have been registered so far after the searches that were carried out on 2 March and the next day at the MLA and his son’s houses in Channagiri, Davanagere, and Bengaluru.