The police said Janardhan Reddy is wanted by the Central Crime Branch of Bengaluru Police
Ballari's mining baron and former BJP minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, missing for the last three days, has appeared for questioning at the crime branch office of the Bengaluru police this evening in connection with an alleged bribery case.
The crime branch had issued a notice asking Mr Reddy to appear before it on Sunday after conducting searches at his Ballari home yesterday.
Earlier today, in a video message, Mr Reddy said he was not on the run, and rubbished reports that he was in Hyderabad.
"Now that the notice has been issued by the police, I have decided to appear before the Central Crime Branch today itself though the notice says I should appear on Sunday," Mr Reddy said in the video.
"I decided to make this video to let people know the truth. I have faith in the police and believe that they would not succumb to any political pressure," he added.
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 Janardhan 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.
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.
On Tuesday, the party lost the Ballari parliamentary constituency to the Congress.