It was really a sweet triumph for V.K. Sankarankutty when a magistrate court here convicted three directors of a building firm on charges of cheating persons who booked flats in their project.

The verdict was passed on a complaint filed by Mr. Sankarankutty 15 years ago.

The directors of Jyoman Builders, Vinod Kumar, V.Chandrasekharan Nair, and P. Divakaran were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment each. They were also asked to pay a fine of Rs.10,000 each.

Mr. Sankarankutty told The Hindu that he had booked a flat in an apartment project called J.M.Manor as he wanted to settle in Kochi on his retirement from a bank in January 1998. The directors induced him to buy the flat by offering Rs.1 lakh as discount for a three bed-room flat at a cost of Rs.12.75 lakh.

However, after a month, he learnt that the managing director of the company had fled the country with his family to settle down in Tanzania, after withdrawing a substantial amount invested by about 300 allottees. He said that the builders had collected Rs.3 crore from the allottees. Besides, they had borrowed Rs.1.5 crore from G.I.C. Housing Finance Limited. A total amount of Rs.15 crore was also raised as loans from various banks.

According to Mr. Sanakarankutty, the judgment would have a deterrent effect on fraudulent builders in various parts of the State.

Cases of cheating are pending against directors of many building firms, including Apple A Day Property and Parthasarathy Builders.

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