CMRL row: BJP asks Pinarayi Vijayan, daughter Veena to give reply to probe agency

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and daughter Veena. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: The BJP on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his daughter T Veena for approaching the court against the Serious Fraud Investigation Office probe into her now-defunct IT firm and urged them to reply to the investigating agency's notice if their hands were clean.

“If there is a contract between two companies, the buyer and the seller of the particular service must respond, and because this didn't happen the SFIO issued a notice to the CM's daughter,” senior party leader and Union Minister V Muraleedharan said. The minister's statement comes in the wake of media reports that the Karnataka High Court would on Monday consider a plea filed by Veena's IT company seeking a stay on the proceedings of the central agency.

"If the chief minister's hands are clean in the illegal payment row, instead of going to court a reply should be given to the investigating agency," Muraleedharan told reporters in Attingal near here. Vijayan recently told the state assembly that his hands were clean and therefore the allegations would not affect him.

The Centre had recently ordered the SFIO probe into the allegations of financial irregularities surrounding a Kochi-based private minerals company Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL) and Vijayan's daughter's firm -- Exalogic Solutions Private Ltd. This follows a petition filed in the Kerala High Court that had sought an SFIO probe against the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), Exalogic and CMRL.

The plea in the high court had alleged that "the machinery of the government intentionally aided and facilitated all corrupt practices and illegal business" in CMRL. Muraleedharan also criticised the ruling CPM's reported move to shield the CM's daughter among party cadres. The BJP leader sought to know which unit of the Left party the CM's daughter was functioning in and pointed out that this was not the approach the CPM had adopted when allegations cropped up against the sons of its former state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan a few years ago.

Rejecting Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan's allegation that there was an understanding between the CPM and the BJP in the state, he cited how Veena being served a notice now and the CM's former principal secretary M Sivasankar being jailed earlier in the gold smuggling case were examples of the saffron party not compromising with anyone. Muraleedharan also asked why the Congress government in Karnataka had not announced a CBI probe against Vijayan's daughter's company Exalogic Solutions, though it was headquartered in Bengaluru.

Exalogic Solutions is being probed by the SFIO; the agency visited the KSIDC head office here on Wednesday after inspecting the Kochi office of CMRL last week. This investigation was initiated after a Malayalam daily reported last year that CMRL had paid a total of Rs 1.72 crore to Exalogic between 2017 and 2020. Though no service was rendered by her firm, the amount was paid on a monthly basis "due to her relationship with a prominent person", it alleged.

The news report cited the ruling of an interim board for settlement and said that CMRL previously had an agreement with Veena's IT firm for consultancy and software support services. The report also alleged that subsequent to this there were findings by the Registrar of Companies (ROC) against her firm. Quoting from the ROC report, the Congress-led UDF opposition has claimed that Veena's firm had received money using false documents and without providing any services.

(With PTI inputs)

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