Kerala chit fund in police crosshairs as 15 small depositors lose Rs 4.75 lakh

Kanhangad DySP says more complaints likely to be filed. Sigstech has faced similar charges earlier too.

Published: 13th June 2022 02:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th June 2022 02:45 PM   |  A+A-

Chit fund fraud, money fraud

For representational purposes

Express News Service

KASARAGOD: Kasaragod police are investigating a complaint against a chit company that allegedly duped depositors of nearly Rs 4.75 lakh over a period of seven years.

As many as 15 small depositors have come forward to lodge a police complaint.

Based on the complaints, Nileshwar, Chandera, Ambalathara, and Chittarikkal police stations have registered 15 cases of cheating under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Sigstech Chits Private Limited.

Police have charged seven officials of Sigstech Chits under Section 420 of the IPC. They are: Vrinda Rajesh (53) of Aymanam in Kottayam; Kunhichandu Melath Nair (65) of Perumbala in Chemnad panchayat of Kasaragod; Mercy P Joy (52) of Thottuchalil in Taliparamba; A Suresh Babu (57) of Kuzhakkulangara of Taliparamba; Rajeev Narayanan Nair (54) and his wife Sandhya Rajeev (43) of Aymanam in Kottayam; and Kizhakevittil Kamalakshan (59) of Taliparamba.

"These complaints have started coming in the past two days. We are expecting more depositors to come forward to lodge complaints in the coming days," said Kanhangad DySP Dr V Balakrishnan.

"A lot of money chain companies are stealing people's money even as we speak by promising people exorbitant interest rates and income," he said.

Most of the complaints have come from hill panchayats of Kodom-Bellur and Chittarikkal.

Mary Antony of Paramba in Malom said she deposited Rs 1.70 lakh with Sigs Chits in 130 installments from April 18, 2011 to February 20, 2014. Her neighbour K M Sebastian said he deposited Rs 18,371 in two installments with the company. A M Assisi of Kalichanadukkam said he deposited Rs 23,380 in the company after it promised higher returns on June 9, 2014.
P Sarojini of Jyothi Nagar deposited Rs 50,000 on January 9, 2017. The company did not return their money. Mercy John from Kalichanadukkam deposited Rs 60,000 on October 26, 2016.
Between February 2014 and May 2018, her neighbour Kamalakshi deposited Rs 52,000 in 96 installments, that is around Rs 500 each. C V Chandran from the same town deposited Rs 11,904 in May 2013. K Subramanian of Thayanur deposited Rs 13,082 in December 2013; T Vinu from the same place deposited Rs 41,000 in 86 installments between December 2014 and April 2018.
Binu of Badur in Thayanur deposited Rs 25,000 in May 2016. K V Haridas of Pallikkara in Nileshwar deposited Rs 2 lakh in Sigs Chits in October 2015, and another Rs 5,000 in August 2016.
K K Balakrishnan of Adukathparamb in Madikai deposited Rs 75,000 in April 2016 and another Rs 50,000 in November 2017. His neighbour Prasanna Rajan deposited Rs 2,000 in June 2017.
All of them alleged that they were stonewalled by the company when they asked for their money.

In the past, complaints of cheating were filed against Sigs Chits in Kannur and Thrissur districts, too.

In October 2018, the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Thrissur asked Vrinda Rajesh to refund Rs 37,000 with 10% interest rate to Teenu Anne Tony. She had paid Rs 33,000 in 33 monthly installments from March 2012. But when the deposit matured, the company failed to return her money despite multiple requests.

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In February 2021, Krishnan Namboodiri (63) of Thalassery dragged the company and Vrinda Rajesh to the High Court of Kerala, after a petition was dragging since 2018. But the high court redirected the case to the munsiff court of Taliparamba with the direction to "expedite the proceedings and take the case to a logical conclusion without further delay".
Vrinda Rajesh and Kunhichandu Melath Nair had formed Sigstech Marketing Private Limited as an NGO in July 2004. It has an office at Nagampadam in Kottayam and is listed as a corporate agent for LIC. But the company's  registered address is at Ameer Complex at Chiravakk in Taliparamba.

In August 2013, Vrinda Rajesh and Rajeev Narayanan Nair Kulangara formed another company Sigs Chits Private Limited. Kunhichandu Melath Nair joined the company as director in July 2015.

The four police stations which have registered cases against the companies said they would be investigating the company, independently, as of now. "We need to get an order from the top to club the cases," said an officer in Chittarikkal police station.

Kanhangad DySP Dr Balakrishnan said a special investigation team would be formed if more complaints are filed against the company.



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