ED finds CPM MLA’s key role in ₹150-Cr cooperative bank scam

THRISSUR | Updated: 25 August, 2023 10:26 am IST
ED finds CPM MLA’s involvement in ₹150-Cr cooperative bank scam

THRISSUR: Former Kerala minister and CPI (M) legislator AC Moidheen played a key role in a ₹150 crore cooperative bank scam that has rocked the politics of Thrissur district, as per the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Officials of the Karuvannoor cooperative bank disbursed benami loans at the behest of the senior ruling party leader, it revealed.

On Wednesday, the agency conducted a series of raids at the residences of Moidheen and his close associates, commencing at 7 am and extending well into the evening.

The ED has also confirmed that it has frozen bank accounts and fixed deposits totaling ₹28 lakhs, owned by the CPI (M) MLA and his wife.

The ED’s inquiry has revealed that “at the behest of certain leaders who held positions at the district level and were committee members of specific political parties that governed the bank, loans were disbursed by the bank manager through agents in cash to non-member benamis, using properties of financially disadvantaged members as collateral without their consent, thus funneling gains to the accused.”

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“Many such benami loans were disbursed on the instructions of AC Moidheen,” the agency said.

Responding to the ED’s actions, Moidheen said on Wednesday that the raid appeared to be pre-planned, while the CPI (M) state secretariat claimed it was part of a broader attempt by the Centre to weaken opposition parties by employing its agencies against their leadership.

 

The ED initiated its probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, following leads from the Kerala Police’s investigation. The police had previously revealed in 2021 that ₹150 crore had allegedly been misappropriated by bank staff. This purported scam also implicated members of the CPI (M), the party in control of the bank. Consequently, 11 members of the bank’s governing body and six bank employees were arrested.

The Karuvannoor Service Cooperative Bank scandal had a profound impact on the Kerala CPI(M), which had prided itself on overseeing the robust cooperative movement in the state. The bank had approximately 12,000 depositors, and a number of them tragically resorted to suicide over the last two years due to the bank’s failure to return their savings.

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Meanwhile, both the opposition Congress and the BJP are demanding that Moidheen resign from his MLA post and face the ongoing probe.

Senior Congress leader Anil Akkara alleged that he had violated election regulations and should promptly step down from his position. “In the affidavit submitted to the election commission, AC Moidheen claimed to possess ₹19 lakhs in bank deposits across two banks. However, the ED’s recent revelation indicates he holds deposits worth Rs 31 lakhs across four banks. The Election Commission should disqualify him from office,” stated Anil Akkara at a press conference in Thrissur.

 

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