Key accused in flood relief scam remanded

Hard disk of official computer used by first accused, his laptop seized

The District Crime Branch team probing the alleged diversion of flood relief fund to accounts of ineligible persons on Tuesday seized the hard disk of the official computer used by first accused Vishnu Prasad, and his personal laptop.

The hard disk of the computer allegedly used by the first accused for committing the irregularities in his official capacity was seized from the Disaster Management Cell on the first floor of the District Collectorate while the personal laptop was taken into custody from his residence at Mavelipuram at Kakkanad.

Mr. Prasad, who served as a clerk at the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund section at the collectorate, was arrested on Monday, and was present during the seizures.

Later in the day, he was produced before the Muvattupuzha Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Court, which remanded him to judicial custody in Muvattupuzha sub jail till March 17. His bail petition would be considered on March 7.

The remand report submitted by Biji George, Assistant Commissioner, District Crime Branch, arraigned Mahesh B of Civil Lane Road, and Anwar M.M of Nilampathinjimugal near Kakkand, as the second and third accused. Both were absconding.

Mr. Prasad was arrested after he surrendered at the office of the District Crime Branch after Additional District Magistrate Chandrasekharan Nair lodged a petition with the Thrikkakara police on February 25. He was accused of committing irregularities inflicting a loss of ₹10.54 lakh on the government exchequer in favour of illegal beneficiaries. He was subsequently charged with IPC Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent) 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and Section 13 (1) (a) (if a public servant habitually accepts or obtains or agrees to accept or attempts to obtain from any person for himself or for any other person any gratification other than legal remuneration as a motive or reward) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Later, the case was transferred to the Crime Branch considering the gravity of the offence.

Mr. Nair said that departmental inquiry by the collectorate Finance Officer and Inspection Superintendent was progressing against Mr. Prasad who had already been placed under suspension. He ruled out involvement of more revenue officials in the scam for the time being.

Remand report

As per the remand report, the first accused shared with the second accused the account numbers to which the transfer of flood relief from the District Collector’s disaster management relief fund had failed. These account numbers were then tampered with based on which ₹2.50 lakh each was transferred in two different transactions to an account of the Ayyanad Service Cooperative Bank opened at the Kakkanad branch of the Federal Bank.

The third accused, who was an account holder at the Ayyanad Service Cooperative Bank, then got this amount transferred to his account by producing the Unique Transaction Reference number. He then withdrew ₹2 lakh each over two days and transferred the remaining amount in transactions of ₹49,999 each to accounts held by him and wife at HDFC Bank.

Later, the first accused transferred ₹2.5 lakh and ₹1.50 lakh to an account in the Kakkanad branch of Dena Bank, which the second accused had shared with the first accused, on January 21. This was followed by another transfer of ₹1.79 lakh to the account of the Ayyanad Service Cooperative Bank on January 24.

As per the Crime Branch probe up until now, the total amount diverted may have exceeded the initial estimates and stood at around ₹12.94 lakh.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 5:44:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/key-accused-in-flood-relief-scam-remanded/article30973826.ece

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