When it was in business, Team Solar was the leader. The company floated by Biju Radhakrishnan and Saritha S. Nair who are now under arrest on charges varying from murder to cheating people of crores of rupees, had an impressive clientele.
Interestingly, when Team Solar was setting up solar panels, heaters and solar powered lights at the Police Club, the office of the City Police Commissioner, senior police officials and ministers, both Biju and Saritha were out on bail in various other cheating cases.
A former employee of Team Solar, who did not want to be named, said that even though Team Solar had its hands full of orders for similar works, only those of celebrity clients were take up.
A senior officer in the City Police said that Team Solar was selected for installing the solar heater at the Police Club through competitive tender process, but the company was highly recommended by many people as the leader in the market.
The couple used this goodwill generated by an impressive clientele to lure people and then spot gullible ones to trap them into investing big sums in fictitious power projects. Sajjad K.M., one of the victims and on whose complaint the Perumbavoor police arrested Saritha, said that he got in touch with Team Solar after seeing an advertisement in the newspapers for solar panelling of his house. He ended up parting with Rs. 40 lakh for a power plant here and in windmills in Tamil Nadu.
When Team Solar was assigned the task of setting up solar equipment at the top-level offices of the City Police in 2012, it was not discussed how someone who was arrested in 2009 and produced before the court for cheating a resident of Kakkanad of Rs. 1.60 lakh after promising a windmill machine, won the quotation. This was besides other cases that had been registered against them elsewhere. Saritha was out on bail when she got in touch with senior police officials over the phone for new assignments.
Even though there were some complaints about the team when it returned to the city in 2012, no action was initiated against them. “The problem was that no one came forward to lodge a formal complaint, as they used to concentrate on people with unaccounted money. A majority of the victims chose not to proceed with the case and were happy if they got the money back,” said a senior police official.