The Kerala police will principally investigate whether there has been any conflict of interest or abetment on the part of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s personal staff members who stand accused of having been in constant phone contact with Sarita Nair, a 40-year-old woman with a rotten police record, against whom 20-odd financial fraud cases are pending in different police stations and courts in the State since 2009.
Her “absconding” business associate Biju Radhakrishnan, who is high on the wanted list of the State police, is also an accused in these cases. The State police intelligence, as part of routine, had informed the government about the allegations against the duo, though no specific advisory was issued recently. The Home Department itself had received several complaints from citizens about their activities.
Additional Director General of Police A. Hemachandran, who is supervising the high-profile and politically important criminal enquiry, has created separate teams to investigate the cases. The suspects are mainly accused of financial crime, including embezzlement, fraud, cheating, forgery and use of forged documents as genuine ones to con their clients into investing money in their domestic and industrial scale solar energy harvesting projects, none of which have reportedly borne fruition.
Of particular interest to the police are the “documents,” which purportedly had the Chief Minister’s signature on them and were reportedly used by the clients to convince their prospective customers that their investment plans had State backing. (The Chief Minister’s office has since clarified that, contrary to claims aired in the media, the government had not allowed the duo’s firm, Team Solar, to present its plans at its investors’ meet, Emerging Kerala). The police said the accused had pretended as “connectors,” persons who knew lot of influential figures, to convince their “victims” of their credibility and business potential.
They claimed to have un-impeded access, “a mobile phone call away” as a complainant put it, to Central and State Ministers, bankers and prominent businessmen.
In most cases, they had cleverly exploited the accessibility of Kerala politicians. Sarita was the face of her organisation while Biju was its background operator. “She seemed to be persuasive saleswoman, going by the investments she brought into the company from citizens ranging from jewellers and builders to pensioners looking for good returns on their life savings. Most of her clients never got their money back,” an investigator said.