Crime Branch detain four accused in Kerala coop bank scam

CPM's Thrissur district leadership kept Karuvannur bank fraud under wraps

Thrissur: The Kerala police team probing the multi-crore Karuvannur bank loan scam has taken four main accused in the case into custody. Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank's former secretary Sunil Kumar, former manager Biju Kareem, accountant C K Jils and commission agent Bejoy were picked up from a flat at Ayyanthole in Thrissur district on Sunday. 

The accused were brought out of the flat in PPE kits. They were being questioned. 

The Crime Branch team investigating the case had raided the houses of six accused earlier in the day. The raids were conducted at Irinjalakuda, Porathissery and Korumbissery. 

The Crime Branch had decided to conduct inspections at the offices of the companies registered in Irinjalakuda in partnership of the accused. PESO Infrastructures, CCM Traders, Thekady Resorts and Munnar Luxway are the firms under the police's radar. It is suspected that the accused have invested the money they made through loan fraud in these ventures. The police are also planning to seize the properties owned by the accused. 

The loan scam, to the tune of over Rs 100 crore, has been reported in Karavannur Cooperative bank following which police has registered a case against six bank officials and launched investigation.

After several people including local customers raised apprehensions about the bank's functioning, an audit had been conducted there recently, in which the charges were reportedly found to be true.

During the inspection, it was also found that loans were sanctioned on the property pledged by local customers without their knowledge and the loan amount was credited multiple times to the selected accounts.

The case was registered against the bank officials, including the secretary of the bank, who were already placed under suspension over the allegations.

The scam has put the CPM-led LDF government with the opposition parties alleging that that the CPM leadership had kept the scandal under wraps though they had clear knowledge about the fraud.

Though the fraud had come to light in 2018, the governing council of the cooperative bank was dismissed only on Thursday.

Refuting the opposition's charges in the assembly, Minister of Cooperation V N Vasavan recently said the government acted promptly and seven bank employees, allegedly involved in the fraud, had already been suspended.

A complaint in this regard was lodged for the first time on January 16, 2019 and police registered a case within a week. On the charges of delay in dismissing the bank governing council, the minister said there were some mandatory proceedings to be followed, including conducting a probe, before doing so.

The irregularity was estimated to the tune of over Rs 104 crore, the minister said.

"A crime branch probe is progressing into the incident. The Cooperation Department is also carrying out a separate probe," Vasavan added.

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