Kochi: The Enforcement Directorate team which is probing the money laundering charges in the Rs 150 crore scam in the CPM controlled Karuvannur Co-operative bank on Friday interrogated party state committee member M K Kannan for around four hours. The team revealed that the CPM leader who complained of uneasiness during the interrogation was not ready to cooperate with them.
Meanwhile, Kannan denied these reports and claimed that the interrogation was smooth. Kannan said he would appear for questioning whenever the agency asks him to.
"I don't have any health issues as of now. Someone might have spread such news to cause worry to my family," he told the reporters.
Kannan, the State Vice-President of the Kerala Bank, is also the president of the Thrissur Service Cooperative Bank. He reached the ED office here in the morning but was let go after around four hours.
On September 25, the agency had interrogated him for seven hours, after which the CPM leader had alleged that the agency officials mentally tortured him and that a north Indian officer who speaks Hindi threatened him.
"They were mentally torturing. They wanted to mentally depress me. There is one deputy director who was threatening in Hindi," Kannan had then told the media. On September 26, CPM leader and Wadakkanchery Municipal Councillor P R Aravindakshan was arrested by the ED in connection with the case. The CPM had said that the arrest of Aravindakshan was a witch-hunt carried out by the agency because he had complained to the police accusing the ED officials of threatening and assaulting him.
The ED had earlier arrested one Kiran P P and Satheesh Kumar P in connection with the alleged issuance of 'benami' loans from the Karuvannur bank. On September 11, CPM leader and MLA A C Moideen was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED in connection with its probe. The ED has been questioning some people involved in the case since it conducted raids on their properties in August. The agency had recorded the MLA's statement under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED had earlier frozen the bank account and fixed deposits worth Rs 28 lakh of Moideen, the former Kerala Minister for Cooperation and Industries, and his wife, apart from seizing 36 properties valued at Rs 15 crore, which were labelled the "proceeds of crime" in the case. Moideen, who currently represents the Kunnamkulam constituency in the Kerala Assembly, had addressed the press after the raids conducted at his residence on August 22 and said the action was "pre-planned," but added that he would cooperate with any investigation.
The ED had claimed that its probe found that "on the instructions of certain persons, who were district-level leaders and committee members of a certain political party that governed the bank, loans were disbursed by the bank manager through the agent in cash to non-member 'benamis', by mortgaging properties of poor members without their knowledge and laundered to the benefit of the accused". "Many such benami loans were disbursed on the instructions of A C Moideen," it had alleged in a statement issued on August 23, a day after the raids were carried out.
Apart from Kumar and Kiran, the properties of Rahim C M and Shiju M K were also raided, according to the ED. They claimed that Kumar was the kingpin.
This case of alleged fraud, beginning in 2010, in the Thrissur-based Karuvannur Cooperative Bank triggered a political row in Kerala two years ago. The money laundering case stems from 16 FIRs registered by the Kerala Police (Crime Branch) in Thrissur. The ED had carried out similar raids in August last year at six locations, including a branch of the bank located in Irinjalakuda, Thrissur. It had attached assets worth Rs 30.70 crore of a commission agent of the bank named Bijoy A K.
After the Kerala Police registered the FIR in July 2021, an audit of the bank found that more than Rs 100 crore funds had been diverted, the ED had said last year.
(With PTI inputs)