Karuvannur bank case: Court grants ED one-day custody of two; CPI(M) alleges ED acting on Suresh Gopi’s direction

The court gave the agency custody of PR Aravindakshan and CK Jills, who were earlier arrested in the case, till Tuesday.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 10, 2023 | 12:55 PMUpdatedOct 10, 2023 | 12:55 PM

AC Moideen ED notice

A special court considering the money laundering matter in connection with the alleged fraud in the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank has scam sent two arrested accused to Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody for a day.

The court gave the agency custody of PR Aravindakshan and CK Jills, who were earlier arrested in the case, till Tuesday, 10 October.

The ED had, on 26 September, arrested CPI(M) leader and Wadakkanchery municipal councillor Aravindakshan in connection with the case.

The agency has arrested a former employee of the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank, Jills, who allegedly syphoned off ₹5 crore of the bank’s funds.

Related: Family of deceased man say bank did not allow withdrawal of deposit

ED acting on directions of ‘actor’?

Meanwhile, senior CPI(M) leader P Jayarajan on Monday alleged that the ED was acting as per the directions of “one actor” in Thrissur. He said it was the Crime Branch wing of the state police that investigated and found the irregularities, and not the ED.

“I am sure that all the political leaders (including from the Congress) have the same opinion that the ED has an agenda to damage the reputation of the cooperative sector in the state,” Jayarajan told the media in Thiruvananthapuram.

Jayarajan, in an apparent reference to actor-turned-politician and BJP leader Suresh Gopi, said that the media has reported that the agency was acting as per the instructions of an actor.

“An actor has now appeared in Thrissur and the media has reported that the agency is acting based on the instructions of the said actor,” he said.

He had also claimed that the agency would come to one particular bank in Kannur. “Is he the authority which gives directions to the ED?” Jayarajan asked.

Related: Ruling CPI(M) protecting those behind Karuvannur bank scam: UDF

‘Trying to create anti-government sentiment’

Jayarajan also alleged that the actor was attempting to create an anti-Left and anti-government sentiment in the society but the people of the state would see through it.

The CPI(M) had said that the arrest of Aravindakshan was a political witch-hunt by the agency following his complaint to the police, accusing the ED officials of threatening and assaulting him.

The ED had earlier arrested one Kiran PP and Satheesh Kumar P in connection with the alleged issuance of benami loans from the Karuvannur bank.

On 11 September, CPI(M) leader and MLA AC Moideen was interrogated for over nine hours by the ED.

The ED has been questioning some people involved in the case since it conducted raids at their premises in August.

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 ₹30.70 crore of a commission agent of the bank, Bijoy AK.

Related: Kerala CPI(M) MLA Moideen quizzed by ED for 9 hours

Diversions of over ₹100 crore

After the Kerala Police registered the FIR in July 2021, the registrar in their audit found “diversions” of more than ₹100 crore, the ED had said last year.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M) State Secretariat accused the media of blowing the incident out of proportion and tarnishing the image of the cooperative sector.

According to Minister VN Vasavan, the state has 164 cooperative institutions that failed to refund deposits to customers even after their maturity period.

To partially shield itself from people’s wrath, the government recently announced a security amount of ₹2 lakh for each large deposit in cooperative banks under the Kerala Cooperative Deposit Guarantee Scheme. But it so far remains on paper.

According to Opposition leader VD Satheesan, most investors in cooperative banks are ordinary people, and fraudsters are looting their hard-earned money.

People who live on shoestring budgets deposit their savings in such banks for a secure future. Targeting such people, the scammers forge papers and use their administrative powers to escape punishment.

According to a rough estimate, Kerala has 15,000 cooperative banks and societies.

(With PTI inputs)