Six arrested, accused absconding

An appraiser attached to a Primary Agriculture Cooperation Credit Society (PACCS) at Naripaiyur in Kadaladi Taluk has defrauded the society to the tune of Rs 30.64 lakh. He was instrumental in allowing his family members and six proxies to pledge 219 ‘sovereigns’ of fake jewellery and get loans.

With the District Crime Branch police registering a case and arresting six persons in this connection on Wednesday, appraiser P. S. Sakthivel (60), his wife Inbavalli and sons Balamurugan and Sudalaimadan are said to be absconding.

Acting on a complaint lodged by Mr. R. Kannadasan, secretary of the society, the police arrested six palm tree workers, who were used as proxies by the appraiser. The fraud came to light when the accused borrowers, while responding to a notice, told the society that they would not mind auctioning of the pledged jewellery.

Growing suspicious, the society engaged an appraiser from the Ramanathapuam District Central Cooperative Bank to examine the jewellery and found them fake. The police identified the accused as R. Arumugam (50), A. Thiruvandi (32), A.Selvaraj (40), P. Anthony Raj (43), T. Raj (27) and R. Velraja (41) from Pachaiapuram, Kannigapuri and Sayalkudi areas. They were arrested under sections 420, 408 and 120 (b) of the IPC and remanded in judicial custody after being produced before a magistrate court in Mudukalathur on Wednesday.

The police said special teams had been formed to arrest the appraiser and his family members.

The appraiser was living at Kannirajapuram and had recently sold his house, they added.

According to the police, the appraiser had examined the fake jewellery brought by his wife and sons and recommended a loan of about Rs. 10 lakh after vouching for the purity of the gold. He had also arranged for fake jewellery to enable the six accused to avail themselves of a loan of over Rs. 20 lakh, the police said.

The six accused had taken jewel loans on 11 occasions within a short span of six months from November 2011 to April 2012, the police said. Except the first accused, all others had availed themselves of jewel loans twice during this period, they added. Whether Mr Kannadasan had acted hand in glow with the appraiser would be known only after the arrest of the appraiser and his two sons, the police said. The appraiser’s sons – both of them goldsmiths -- were also believed to have cheated local villagers with fake jewellery, the police said, and added that no complaint had been received in this respect.

A senior official said on condition of anonymity that this was only the tip of an iceberg. If the police launched an investigation, they would find 75 per cent of the jewellery pledged in the PACCS fake, the official said.

There were 134 PACCS in the district and most of them, especially those in Kadaladi and Kamudhi Taluks, were being mismanaged, the official said, and added that only a few societies served the farmers.