Kochi: The Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (SupplyCo) has taken a hit of Rs 21.13 lakh as money was diverted as wages for ghost workers. Its internal Vigilance wing detected irregularities and subsequently Rs 10.42 lakh was recovered from accused officials.
Fraud to the tune of Rs 3.86 lakh was detected at its Munnar center in the Idukki district alone. A similar substantial misappropriation of funds also happened at its Palakkad outlet.
The names of non-existing temporary workers were added to payrolls of SupplyCo outlets across the state, the inquiry found. The fraud, which was going on for three years, was mainly committed at SupplyCo small-scale outlets and Maveli stores.
The irregularity came to light after the authorities switched over to the centralized online system for the recording of attendance and salary distribution.
“SupplyCo suffered a total loss of Rs 21.13 lakh due to the irregularity. We have recovered Rs 10.42 lakh from the accused officials,” Chairman and Managing Director Dr Sanjeeb Patjoshi, IPS, said.
The agency initiated measures to recover twice the amount embezzled by the accused officials deployed at its distribution centers.
However, it is alleged that punitive measures were confined to just recovering double the money siphoned off by the accused, instead of initiating strict measures like suspension, due to political influence.
The modus operandi
The scam was committed by falsely entering the names of more workers on the payrolls above the actual number of employees deployed at the outlets.
The usual procedure is to distribute the wages of contract employees, determined on the basis of the attendance register, through the officer-in-charge of each outlet.
Nearly, 6,000 daily wage workers are employed at SupplyCo outlets. A majority of these are political appointments.