THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Three months after the Vigilance wing of the Co-operation Department submitted an inquiry report indicting the top management of Kerala Farmers’ Cooperative Federation (Kerafed) for making “illegal purchases” for themselves, the matter is still hanging fire.
It was on July 31 this year that the Vigilance wing submitted the report to theoffice of the Registrar of Cooperatives. According to the inquiry report, a copy of which is with ‘Express’, the 15th executive committee meeting on 2-4-2013 decided to distribute ‘’gifts’’ to all director board members after Kerafed recorded a profit of `10 crore.
When approached for a response, Kerafed Managing Director Ashok Kumar Thekkan told ‘Express’ that not all purchases mentioned in the inquiry report were made during his tenure. “Some of these purchases relate to previous years. Moreover, it is a precedent in all co-operatives to distribute gifts to the director board members when the organisation makes remarkable profit,” he said. The report pointed out that a sum of `5.8 lakh was spent “flouting the organisation’s by-laws” to buy top-end ‘Sony Vaio’ laptops and ‘Samsung Galaxy’ smartphones to as many as 12 members of the director board, including the then chairman and the present Managing Director. The Vigilance report says that the Managing Director, who was tasked by the executive committee to procure and distribute these “gifts”, did not include the purchases in the stock register.
“All the 12 director board members are culpable under relevant sections of the
Prevention of Corruption Act and also section 409 (criminal breach of trust by a public servant) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy),” the Vigilance report pointed out.
While the then chairman and one director board member are no longer associated with Kerafed, the remaining 10 are still associated with the public-sector undertaking. The inquiry report also pointed out that Kerafed “wasted public money” by illegally purchasing 17 top-end smartphones in 2012-13 and 50 vanity bags both totaling nearly `2.7 lakh.
Due to the ongoing tussle between the Department of Cooperation and the Department of Agriculture over the control of Kerafed, the inquiry report remained in the cold storage for nearly two months. According to sources, the Director of Agriculture has sought an explanation from Kerafed MD on the matter.