The CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala on Friday faced the opposition heat in the state Assembly over amulti-crore loan scam that surfaced in a cooperative bank controlled by the party, asthe latter charged that the party leadership had kept the scandal under wraps though they have clear knowledge about the fraud. Raising the issue during zero hour, the Congress-UDF wanted the House to be adjourned to discuss the matter which they called as the "biggest bank robbery" in the history of the southern state.
Though the fraud had come to light in 2018, the governing council of the Karavannur Cooperative Bank in Irinjalakuda in Thrissur district was dismissed only on Thursday, they said justifying theirallegation that the Marxist party had taken a decision to keep the fraud a secret. "What were you doing in these three years," Opposition Leader V D Satheesan asked.
The crime even embarrassed the popular heist series released in OTT platforms, they mocked before walking out of the House protesting over Speaker M B Rajesh's action denying leave for the adjournment motion. In his reply, Minister of Cooperation V N Vasavan, however, refuted the charges and said the government acted promptly and seven bank employees, allegedly involved in the fraud, had already been suspended.
A complaint in this regard was lodged for the first time on January 16, 2019 and police registered a case within a week. On the charges of delay in dismissing the bank governing council, the minister said there were some mandatory proceedings to be followed, including conducting a probe, before doing so.
The irregularity was estimated to the tune of over Rs 104 crore, the minister said. "A crime branch probe is progressing into the incident. The Cooperation Department is also carrying out a separate probe," Vasavan added.
Congress legislator Shafi Parambil, who presented the notice for the motion, alleged that the ruling CPI(M) had given lead for the biggest ever bank robbery in the history of the state. The situation was that the account holders, who had not taken a loan of even one rupee, had to repay up to Rs 100 crore, he said.
The Palakkad Legislator also charged that the party itself had carried out a probe into the scam but kept all the findings, which confirmed the irregularity, under wraps in these years. An alleged loan scam, to the tune of over Rs 100 crore,has been reported in Karavannur Cooperative bankfollowing which police has registered a case against six bank officials and launched investigation.
After several people including local customers raised apprehensions about the bank's functioning, an audit had been conducted there recently, in which the charges were reportedly found to be true. During the inspection, it was also found that loans were sanctioned on the property pledged by local customers without their knowledge and the loan amount was credited multiple times to the selected accounts.
The case was registered against the bank officials, including the secretary of the bank, who were already placed under suspension over the allegations.