THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Acknowledging the serious lapses on the part of cooperation department in checking the massive loan fraud in Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank in Thrissur, the state government on Wednesday suspended 16 department employees who had the responsibility of auditing the accounts of the bank and flagging the suspicious activities to the higher-ups.
The suspended officials include joint registrar Mohanmon P Joseph who had sat on the report of the assistant registrar that unearthed the fraud for over nine months and Kerala Bank joint director M D Raghu.
Cooperation department secretary Mini Antony, in the suspension order, said the action is based on the interim report of the nine-member panel of officials appointed to probe the irregularities in the bank. The panel submitted its interim report to the government on August 10.
“The Karuvannur bank falls under the jurisdiction of Thrissur joint registrar. The responsibility for audit is with the JR (Audit), Thrissur. It has been observed that three detailed audits and three surprise inspections bound to be held in the bank were not conducted by officials. Also, these officials hadn’t flagged any irregularities to higher-ups. They didn’t act on the recommendations of the audit reports,” said the suspension order.
On August 31, 2019, the joint registrar of cooperation (Thrissur) ordered a department-level probe into the functioning of the bank after receiving a few complaints alleging financial mismanagement and loan fraud. A three-member team, comprising Irinjalakuda assistant registrar Omana K L and inspectors Resmi P C and Preetha V V, carried out a detailed inquiry and submitted a comprehensive report, flagging the loan fraud of Rs 104 crore, to the joint registrar on October 10, 2020. However, the joint registrar didn’t act on the report till depositors raised fresh complaints last month. Interestingly, Preetha, who is at present working as senior inspector in Mukundapuram, is also among the suspended officials.
The other officials placed under suspension are: Glady John Puthoor (additional registrar, Kerala cooperative union, Thiruvananthapuram), Shali T Narayanan (assistant registrar, Thalappilly), Piyus K O (assistant registrar, Thrissur), M C Ajith (assistant registrar, Mukundapuram), K O Davis (assistant registrar, Chalakudy), Bindu Francis (assistant registrar, Thrissur), P Ramachandran (principal, Cooperation Training College, Kottarakkara), senior auditors Sherley T K and Biju D Kuttikad, special grade senior inspector Raji A J, senior inspector Bindu V R, senior auditor Dhanup M S and inspector Binu K R.
All these officials were in charge of the supervision of the bank from 2014 to 2020. A few other officials who were also found responsible for the lapses have retired. The government decided to initiate disciplinary proceedings against them too, under relevant provisions of Kerala Service Rules.
A detailed probe to detect the lapses on the part of cooperation department officials from 2011 to 2014 was also ordered as the preliminary probe has hinted that the fraudulent activities started in 2011.
TWO MORE ACCUSED SURRENDER
THRISSUR: The crime branch team probing the C100-crore scam in Karuvannur Service Co-operative Bank arrested two more accused on Wednesday after they surrendered before the investigating officers. Second accused Biju Kareem and third accused Jils C K had surrendered before the probe team as the court rejected their anticipatory bail pleas on Tuesday. The police had arrested first accused and former secretary of the bank T R Sunilkumar on Tuesday.
Police are on the search for the remaining three accused- Bejoy, Reji and Kiran. Meanwhile, the remand report of the police submitted in Irinjalakuda court has revealed that fraudulent activities to the tune of Rs 100 crore happened in the bank. The police added that both Biju and Jils were involved in frauds like sanctioning loans to their benamis and relatives misusing their position in the bank and also by showing inflated value of land pledged for loan. Documentary evidence related to the case were recovered from the raids conducted in the houses of the accused.