I-T department issues summons to victims of BSNL Cooperative Society scam

Victims allege soft-pedalling of process by investigating agencies
Image used for representation
Image used for representation

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as a crime branch investigation is going on into the BSNL Engineers Cooperative Society scam, the I-T department has started sending summons to the victims to pay taxes. Meanwhile, the victims alleged that investigating agencies have been soft-pedalling the process.

The crime branch had arrested A R Gopinathan, president of the BSNL Engineers Cooperative Society, and clerk A R Rajeev on charges of fund misappropriation amounting to approximately Rs 260 crore in December 2023. A week ago Rajeev was granted conditional bail.

Most of the victims are those suffering from age-related ailments or other health issues, and hence they find it difficult to deal with the pressure.

“Initially, most investors in the society were BSNL employees. However, after the scam was detected, many withdrew investments. Currently, one-third of the 1,700 victims are BSNL employees, rest are all outsiders. This itself is an example of the long-term nature of the fraud. Some depositors have even lost their lives in pursuit of justice. Without pensions, these victims are unable to bear the tax burdens,” said a victim who did not want to be named.

Victims of the scam have sought a speedy investigation by the crime branch and the consideration of pending FIRs. They have also demanded to consider these when the accused are granted bail.

Although the government had initiated the move to reclaim properties from the culprits by invoking the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes (BUDS) Act, properties are yet to be seized in Kadakampally and Kollam.

“A R Gopinathan has bought properties in the names of his wife, daughters, and other relatives in Kadakampally. Only a few properties have been attached by the government. Most remain unattached, and village officials claim they cannot identify these properties,” added another depositor.

Though the Enforcement Directorate had stepped in, victims say that a comprehensive investigation is yet to begin.

Victims also alleged that the main culprits are politically influential people and hence the delay.

Moolah crisis

  • Crime branch arrests two bank officials on charges of fund misappropriation amounting to C260 crore in December 2023

  • One-third of the 1,700 victims are BSNL employees, rest are all outsiders

  • Most of the victims are those suffering from age-related ailments or other health issues and are unable to deal with the pressure

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