City residents allegedly defrauded of lakhs in the name of Swiss Solar, another firm.

Biju Radhakrishnan, the prime suspect in the solar and wind energy projects investment fraud, had collected money from at least a score of city residents in the name of a second firm he had launched here early this year.

The second accused in the case and Biju’s business associate, Saritha S. Nair, was not named a partner in the suspect firm, Swiss Solar. “This seems to be Biju’s own operation independent of Sarita,” a senior official said.

Investigators said Biju could have offered commission to government servants, mediapersons and film actors, who induced others to invest in his companies, which existed only on paper. (The Registrar of Companies has so far no record of the suspect’s second firm, Swiss Solar, according to the police.) The police said the alleged “fly-by-night operator” influenced a doctor and an NRI businessman, notably the company’s biggest investors in the city, to deposit Rs.26 lakh and Rs.75 lakh in Swiss Solar. Quoting their statements, the police said that Biju had approached one of them along with a television serial actor. He allegedly introduced himself as a bureaucrat working in the Central government’s power department. He claimed that he had the mandate of the then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to seek out “public-spirited” businessmen to invest in government-backed (by providing free land) solar and wind energy projects scheduled to come up in Tamil Nadu.

The complainant also told the police that the accused had arrived in a car with a roof-top beacon to lend legitimacy to his claim that he was a civil servant of standing in the Union government. Investigators said the suspect had also made calls from the businessman’s house, some of them purportedly to Mr. Chidambaram’s personal staff. The victims realised they were swindled when they found the company’s office closed. Biju was untraceable. The company’s staff, 18 educated men and women trained professionally as salespersons, were left in the lurch without salary for months. The police said they could comment on the veracity of the victims’ statements only after questioning Biju. Many of those who claimed to have been swindled by him had given him money in hard currency and possessed only questionable records about their transactions with his firms.