G. Anand

Consent sought to auction Sabarinath’s assets

Probe team approached by

harried investors

Crime Branch wants to repay them with auction proceeds

Thiruvananthapuram: It is his almost elemental desire to live for his family which prompts the 45-year-old heart patient Kumar (name changed) to make the fretful journey from his hospital bed to the Crime Branch’s office in the city almost every other day.

Kumar, a landless labourer, had invested Rs.1 lakh in financial fraud suspect Sabarinath’s speculation company, Inest, in the hope that the deposit would mature to Rs.2.5 lakh in time for his crucial cardiac surgery this year-end. The company broke and the ailing Kumar lost everything except his will to live.

Kumar is one among the hundreds of bitter depositors who feel cheated by Sabarinath and his associates. They feel the suspect had swindled them of all their savings and used it recklessly for realising his social ambitions.

The special team investigating the nearly Rs.100-crore financial fraud is a set of apparently exhausted and driven-looking men working out of the dingy kitchen of a rented house that doubles as their office at Jawahar Nagar. They said they had got tired of pacifying complainants such as Kumar. One woman who lost Rs.4 lakh she saved for her daughter’s marriage constantly calls them and threatens to commit suicide if her deposit is not returned in time for the girl’s wedding.

Rs.58 lakh lost

Another regular visitor is a 72-year-old seemingly inconsolable doctor who lost Rs.58 lakh which he had invested in Inest allegedly at the behest of a Kollam-based physician, Ramani, one of the chief suspects in the cheating case.

(Investigators said various persons had deposited up to Rs.12.24 crore in Sabarinath’s firm through Ramani for which Inest paid her a huge commission and appointed her as its financial adviser. The High Court has asked her and other absconding suspects to surrender before the investigating officer, P. Regu, before October 27)

The Crime Branch has moved the court seeking permission to immediately auction some of Sabarinath’s assets (chiefly, his 20 cars and some expensive furniture) in the hope of giving some relief to relatively needy depositors such as Kumar. It said the cars, now in police custody, will not even fetch scrap value if it is to be auctioned only after the case is settled.

The agency intends to deposit the proceeds from the auction of Sabarinath’s assets in a treasury account for repaying the depositors. Most persons who took advance money from Sabarinath for selling him land have given signed statements to the Crime Branch expressing their willingness to return the money.