ED files money laundering case against Kerala CM’s daughter Veena, her IT company

The agency has registered a case under the PMLA and is expected to summon the people involved, the sources said.

BySouth First Desk

Published Mar 27, 2024 | 4:22 PMUpdatedMar 28, 2024 | 3:40 PM

Veena Vijayan

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a money laundering case against Veena Thaikkandiyil, the daughter of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, official sources said Wednesday, 27 March.

Her IT company, Exalogic Solutions, and others also figure in the case. The ED is probing a case of alleged illegal payments from a private mineral firm to Veena and the company.

The sources said the case is registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and is expected to summon the people involved.

They said the case follows the cognisance of a complaint filed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), an investigative arm of the Union corporate affairs ministry.

The ED registered the case against Veena based on a complaint from Shone George, a member of the Kottayam district panchayath representing the Poonjar ward.

He is also the son of senior politician PC George, who recently joined the BJP.

According to Shone, the financial dealings of Exalogic involved money laundering and hence ED should probe. In January, PC George and Shone George merged their Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) with the BJP.

Also Read: Karnataka HC dismisses plea by Veena challenging SFIO probe

Orders by Kerala HC, Karnataka HC

The SFIO is probing the transaction between Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), Exalogic Solutions, and Kochi-based mines company Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL).

The Karnataka High Court dismissed a plea on 16 February challenging a probe by the SFIO against Exalogic Solutions Pvt Limited.

Exalogics had claimed that the ₹1.72 crore payment made by CMRL to Exalogics was in exchange for services rendered. However, an interim settlement board probe revealed that Exalogic did not render services.

The Kerala High Court on 12 February asked the state-run KSIDC to provide documents proving it had sought an explanation from CMRL over the alleged financial transactions made to Exalogics.

KSIDC has 13.4 percent shares in CMRL.

Also Read: Kerala HC refuses to stay probe against Veena’s firm

The controversy

A controversy erupted in Kerala after the Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama reported last year that CMRL had paid Veena a total of ₹1.72 crore between 2017 and 2020.

The news report cited an interim board’s ruling for settlement and said that CMRL previously had an agreement with Veena’s IT firm for consultancy and software support services.

It also alleged that although her firm rendered no service, the amount was paid monthly “due to her relationship with a prominent person”.

Veena has already been charged with committing financial fraud involving CMRL for over a year, with the Income Tax (I-T) Interim Settlement Board ruling that the private company paid Exalogic Solutions ₹1.72 crore between 2017 and 2020.

The agency observed that despite the money being accepted, no service was rendered to CMRL.

Meanwhile, sources in the MCA said it was an illegal transaction and that a probe would be conducted under a joint director at the Office of the Director General of Corporate Affairs in Bengaluru.

CMRL MD Kartha, in a sworn statement to the I-T Department, said, “Both these vendors (Veena and Exalogic) have not provided any work, services, software maintenance, consultancy, or any other form of service to our expectations to date. However, monthly payments are being made as per the agreements.”

Although the transactions were made through banks and such payments for business expenses were permissible, the board ruled that the transactions to Veena and Exalogic were “illegal” as no services were rendered.

Veena has also faced charges of financial misappropriation in the past. She was accused of accepting favours to protect the accused in the sensational diplomatic channel gold-smuggling case that rocked Kerala.