Amid the internal fight within the party, the Congress chief in Kerala, K Sudhakaran, has landed in fresh trouble with some charges linking him with the antiques racket which was unearthed with the arrest of a self-styled antique collector in Kochi.
A group of people, who lodged a complaint against Monson Mavunkal for allegedly swindling Rs 10 crore from them have, in their complaint, said they had handed over Rs 25 lakh to Mavunkal in the presence of Kannur MP Sudhakaran on November 22, 2018.
The complainants said Mavunkal had claimed to be a cosmetologist and even treated Sudhakaran.
Mavunkal said Sudhakaran had helped him clear the hurdles in retrieving money, “which was held back due to FEMA rules,” using his influence in Delhi.
However, there is a discrepancy in the complaint as Sudhakaran was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kannur in 2019, while the transaction mentioned in the complaint happened in 2018.
Sudhakaran, meanwhile, confirmed he knew Mavunkal, but rubbished the allegations on his involvement in the former's money deals.
"I knew Monson Mavunkal as a doctor. I have gone to his house five or six times for treatment. There were antique pieces worth crores of rupees in his home. That time there was nothing suspicious about him. I have no role in his deals. No discussion over monetary deals were held in my presence," Sudhakaran told media in Kannur.
He said allegations against him were fabricated and the role of the chief minister's office in it were mysterious. Sudhakaran said he had gone to attend the funeral of his party colleague M I Shanavas on the date mentioned in the complaint.
TV channels have aired a photo in which Sudhakaran is seen with Mavunkal and a group of people, including the complainants.
Former DIG's role?
Meanhile, Yakoob, one of the complainants, alleged that former top police officers were also involved in the crime. He said Rs 25 lakh was handed over to Monson at the house of former DIG S Surendran.
A team of the Kerala Police's Crime Branch arrested Monson Mavunkal from Kochi on Sunday for swindling Rs 10 crore from several persons.
Police said he used to collect money from gullible people, stating he had a huge amount of money in a foreign bank, but he needed some funds to retrieve it as it was stuck due to some technical issues.
Mavunkal, who also dabbled with financing movies as a middleman, claimed he had sold antiques to the Sultan of Brunei and UAE royals and is to soon receive Rs 2,62,000 crore in his bank account.
"We have arrested Monson Mavungal. There are lot of discrepancies between his statements and reality. His claims are all being verified and we have to ascertain whether he has cheated more people," the Kochi Crime Branch official, who led the team of police officers who arrested the fake art dealer told media persons.
Mavunkal used to claim that he was having in his possession the staff of Moses and two of the 30 silver pieces received by Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus Christ.
Police said he had showcased “rare" items including a throne said to be used by Tipu Sultan, as well as a huge collection of old Qurans, Bibles (Old Testament and New Testament), and old handwritten copies of Bhagavad Gita.
Mavunkal used to bring several VIPs to his palatial residence, a part of which was converted into museum to house his 'precious' antiques.
Police sources said he had collected more money than what has been unearthed now. As most of those who had given money to him were holding 'black money' or unaccounted money, he did not expect them to lodge a complaint.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, representatives of antiques industry, told IANS they had lodged several complaints that he was selling fake antiques and that this would have diminished their image among the buyers too, "but due to his high contacts, nothing happened".
Mavunkal's arrest followed a complaint filed by Yakoob Khan and four of his associates, who had transferred Rs 10 crore to him.
A senior Kerala Police officer, who did not want to be named, told IANS that the dealer had connections and police were following his activities “but we could not take action unless a written complaint is lodged. This is the first complaint and we immediately took action. I don't want to be named as this is our duty and I don't know whether he was protected by politicians or police".
Meanwhile, police sources said he did not have any prized processions and most of the ‘prized wooden collections’ he had were carved by a carpenter from Cherthala.