Some corrupt officials and chit fund operators tie up to launder money, writes G. Anand

Corrupt government officials were using the services of certain chit fund operators to launder their ill-gotten wealth, according to Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) investigators.

The relatively new method of operation to conceal ill-gotten money came to light when VACB investigators secretly tailed a chit fund manager who daily visited several sub-registrar offices in the district. Investigators used a concealed camera to record the man’s actions while he was inside the sub-registrar office at Nedumangadu recently. They caught him on camera accepting money and issuing receipts to at least three officials.

The anti-corruption enforcers led by Circle Inspector of Police S. Sreekanth intercepted him outside the office. They seized Rs.21,000 from him. In his signed statement, he said he collected Rs.3,000 daily from one officer and Rs.1,000 each every day from few others in the office.

He said they were members of his “chitty” and that he had paid some of the officers their entire chitty amount in advance, at the time they assumed charge at the sub-registrar office, after deducting his commission. They paid back the “loan on their projected savings” by making daily remittances.

The VACB investigated how government employees could enrol for such high-remittance schemes. They found that a set of licensed document writers charged several times more than the scribe’s fees to “facilitate the speedy” registration of documents and a part of the excess amount was channelled to the corrupt officials for their “service.”

Moreover, a network of touts and corrupt officials ensured that citizens who approached public servants at sub-registrar offices rarely received timely service. The public were forced to pay extra to the middlemen for almost every service.

Anti-corruption investigators, who verified the mobile phone call data records of the chit fund operator, found that the relative locations of his phone showed that he visited at least two sub-registrar offices in the district on all working days for the past one year.

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