THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Around the time the Kerala High Court on Wednesday was hearing a petition to stay the inspection order of the Registrar of Companies (ROC), a three-member team of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) visited the head office of the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
The action by the SFIO, which comes under the Union ministry of corporate affairs (MOCA), was part of investigations into alleged irregularities in payments made by Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL) to Exalogic Solutions Pvt Ltd, the company owned by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter Veena T. KSIDC holds a 13.4% stake in CMRL.
The team, led by deputy director M Arun Prasad, held discussions with KSIDC officials and inspected files related to CMRL. The inspections began at 11.30am and lasted till 4.30pm. In declining to stay the ROC order, Justice Devan Ramachandran asked, “What’s there to hide? It’s KSIDC, right? Why is the KSIDC so concerned? Why is a company owned by the Kerala government finding it difficult to hand over the details?”
The HC was hearing a petition filed by KSIDC challenging the inspection order, which was issued based on a complaint filed by Shone George, who recently joined the BJP, seeking a probe by the SFIO.
KSIDC counsel and Supreme Court lawyer C S Vaidhyanathan submitted that the company is ready to hand over copies of all the books of accounts, audited balance sheets, and minutes of board meetings. It needs some time to produce the books of accounts from 2012 as its voluminous, he added.
The central government’s standing counsel R V Sreejith said there was no reason for the petitioner, the public limited company under the state government to keep away documents that were called by the ROC. The court also directed the central government to respond to the contention of KSIDC.
An earlier order issued by the New Delhi bench of the Income Tax Interim Settlement Board said that Exalogic received Rs 1.72 crore from CMRL in monthly instalments for three years, from 2017 to 2020. Exalogic had entered into an agreement with CMRL to provide IT, marketing consultancy and software services to the latter. However, the income tax department’s investigation found that no services were provided. MOCA had recently ordered a further probe into the IT department’s findings. SFIO inspected the CMRL corporate office on February 5.