Case against him is that he aided Saritha S. Nair and her business associate

The State police on Thursday arrested Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s long-time aide and former personal staff member Tenny Joppan on the charge of cheating.

The police case against him is that he aided alleged financial fraudster Saritha S. Nair and her business associate and suspected conman Biju Radhakrishnan to defraud a Kottayam-based entrepreneur of Rs.40 lakh.

They arraigned him as third accused in the case, registered on the basis of a complaint lodged by Sreedharan Nair, a resident of Konni and an engineer by profession.

In 2011, Mr. Nair had contacted Saritha after seeing a newspaper advertisement placed by her ‘paper company,’ Team Solar, seeking promoters for a ‘State-backed’ Rs.40-crore project to harvest solar energy. Mr. Nair mistook the firm for one of the same name registered in the U.S.

Saritha visited Mr. Nair at his house and discussed the project. She said the total capacity of the proposed solar plant was 3 MW. The promoters could sell the power to the government. In turn, the State would provide them free land near an industrial park in Palakkad to place the solar panels and batteries, which her company would supply.

Investigators said Saritha called Joppan from Mr. Nair’s house to show that she was politically well connected and also, in hindsight, to legitimise her claims. Subsequently, Saritha and Biju took Mr. Nair to the ‘project site’ in Kanjikode. Mr. Nair advanced her a cheque for Rs.25 lakh and promised to invest more money in the project in phases.

In July, Saritha and Mr. Nair visited Joppan at the Secretariat here. According to the police, Joppan told Mr. Nair that Team Solar was a good company to invest in and his decision was right. Joppan’s assurance prompted Mr. Nair to pay Saritha another Rs.15 lakh. Mr. Nair ‘realised’ that he was cheated when the project showed no sign of progress

The police have charged Joppan with cheating and common intention under Sections 420 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code respectively. He would be produced before a magistrate court in Kottayam on Saturday.

Additional Director General of Police (South zone) A. Hemachandran is heading the probe.

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