Bengaluru: Central crime branch (CCB) sleuths on Thursday intensified their search for Ballari-based mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy in connection with a money transaction amounting to crores of rupees allegedly linked to a ponzi scheme.

The crime branch is also hunting for Reddy's close aide Ali Khan, who allegedly struck a Rs 20-crore deal with Syed Ahmed Fareed of Ambidant Marketing Pvt Ltd, a firm accused of involvement in the ponzi scheme, to bail him out of an Enforcement Directorate investigation

Meanwhile, the Congress in Karnataka too felt the heat as the case came to light. Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao and Congress MLA and former minister Ramalinga Reddy had attended the launch of a mobile application by the company.

However, Rao and Ramalinga Reddy denied having any links with the firm. Police sources said Reddy's father-in-law Parameshwara Reddy was also summoned by crime branch sleuths to get details about the absconding mining baron.

Police questioned Fareed and searched at Reddy's Obalaburam Mining Company. Ali Khan's residence at Ballari was also searched.

"Nothing. We are all searching for him (Reddy)," Bengaluru police commissioner T Suneel Kumar said. Fareed, who was arrested earlier, is currently out on bail. Kumar suspected that those who got bail in this case might have alerted Reddy who eventually went into hiding.

Searches continued at Reddy's residence in Ballari Thursday which started around 6 am and went on till evening, two days after Reddy's confidante Sriramulu's sister J Shantha, a BJP candidate, lost in the bypoll from Ballari Lok Sabha constituency, considered a stronghold of the Reddy brothers.

The Congress won the seat breaking the BJP's grip over Ballari since 2004. Joint Commissioner of Bengaluru Police Alok Kumar told reporters that police did not arrest Reddy during the bypoll as they did not want to give a political hue to the case.

Ten days ago, Ramesh, the owner of Raj Mahal Fancy Jewellers at Ballari was arrested, police said.

"He was in constant touch with Ali Khan. These people (Reddy) knew well that police would reach them if Rajmahal Jewellers is touched," Alok Kumar said.

The police officer said Fareed was summoned and questioned to find out about transactions that took place at various places. "We wanted to find out about some missing links in the case. We are also interrogating all those whom he had given money," Alok Kumar added.

Searches were conducted in various towns for those absconding in the case, he said, but did not elaborate. Denying any links with the firm, Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao said, "I dont know about the company. They had invited me for the launch of an app.

"I did not know what the programme actually was. Apart from that neither I have any relation with that company nor I have any information about them." 

He sought to know whether attending a function made anyone part of the business of the company. Congress MLA and former minister Ramalinga Reddy too denied having any links with the firm.

"When I was a minister, people used to call me for various events. There was this Ambidant company. I had never heard its name previously. I saw them (proprietors) for the first time. It was something related to mobile phone. Once it was launched I never met them again. Had I knew that they cheated people, I wouldnt have gone near them," Ramalinga Reddy said.

The Congress MLA said the police have not yet summoned him for questioning but he was ready to face even a CBI probe in this case "as there is nothing to hide or fear." 

"I only attended an event. What is there to get trapped for it? Currently CCB is inquiring.. Let the CBI investigate it," he said. 

With the CCB launching search operations for Janardhana Reddy, BJP distanced itself from the mining baron, saying he was not associated with the party anymore.

BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa said, "Janardhana Reddy is not associated with the BJP. Other than what I have read in newspapers, I do not have any knowledge about this case. Those who commit wrongs will face consequences as per law.