ED gets custody of Karuvannur bank fraud accused

A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Tuesday granted the Enforcement Directorate (ED) three-day custody of two people arrested in connection with the Rs 150 crore Karuvannur Cooperative Bank scam, which triggered a political row in Kerala recently.

The ED had arrested Satheesh Kumar and Kiran P P for their alleged role in the scam on Monday. They were produced before the special PMLA court here today, seeking their custody.

The special court granted agency custody of the accused till Friday.

According to the ED, Kiran embezzled Rs 24.5 crore from the CPI (M)-controlled bank and shared over Rs 14 crore with Kumar.

The ED also alleged before the court that Kumar is the kingpin.

The agency claimed that Kiran embezzled Rs 24.5 crore through 51 benami transactions with the help of Kumar.

The ED has been questioning some people allegedly involved in the case since it conducted raids at their premises, including that of CPI(M) legislator A C Moideen, last month.

The agency claimed that its probe had found that “on the instructions of certain persons, who were district-level leaders and committee members of a certain political party and 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.”

The premises of Kiran, Satheesh Kumar, Rahim C M and Shiju M K were earlier raided by the agency.

This case of alleged fraud, beginning in 2010, at the Thrissur-based Karuvannur Cooperative Bank had 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, Bijoy A K.

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

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