BENGALURU: Investors who have been duped in the I Monetary Advisor (IMA) Group Ponzi scam cannot hope to get their money back any time soon, given the legal and procedural complications involved. While the government has to follow a long-drawn and tedious process to seize assets of the company, the first challenge before investigators is to overcome legal issues related to the very activity of IMA. Unlike other Ponzi companies such as Ambidant Marketing Pvt Ltd, which accepted deposits from investors, the IMA Group claims to have runs its business on the limited private partnership (LLP) model, where investors are partners and returns are subject to market risks. A clause in bonds signed by investors states the company does not assure minimum returns on capital accounts.“This clause hinders us from ensuring gullible investors get their money back,” said an official dealing with the case. The clause is precisely the hurdle that stopped authorities from taking action against the group, despite the Reserve Bank of India alerting the government about its illegal activities way back in 2015. Police said it could not take action against the company under provisions of the Karnataka Protection of Interest of Depositors (KPID) Act since investors were partners. In case of disputes involving LLPs, investors will have to move the National Company Law Tribunal, although cheating allegations do provide room for police to intervene. BR Ravikanthe Gowda, deputy inspector general of police and head of the special investigation team probing the IMA case, told TOI sleuths are exploring various provisions of law to deal with the case. While the revenue department was supposed to seize the company’s assets, it could not do so as it did not receive any complaints from investors. Subsequently, the government, as recently as in January 2019, withdrew powers given to assistant commissioners (ACs) of the revenue department at the district level to investigate Ponzi companies. However, revenue officials say police can now invoke the KPID Act since complaints have poured in. “I think cases can be registered under the KPID Act based on the complaints which say their investments are nothing but deposits,” said LC Nagaraj, assistant commissioner-revenue, who is handling a slew of cases related Ponzi schemes. “This gives us leeway to crack the case.” However, procedures under KPID rules are tedious as investigators are only entitled to identify properties to be attached, while actually attaching them involves court action. Seized assets can be auctioned only after another set of court proceedings. Only then, investors are paid back. Taking note of this, the state government is now mulling new legislation on the lines of Tamil Nadu’s Criminal Amendment Ordinance and Protection of Interest of Depositors Act, which empowers investigators to directly seize properties of a Ponzi company. “We propose to bring in legislation that enables investigators attach assets,” said home minister MB Patil. “Then, investors could get their money back quickly.”