Kerala

Treasury fraud: Plainclothes squad arrest suspect accountant from lawyers' office

A team of plainclothes officers stormed the office of a lawyer here on Wednesday and arrested a senior government accountant suspected to have siphoned off at least ₹2 crore from the State Treasury.

M.R.Bijulal, senior accountant, Government Sub Treasury, Vanchiyoor, had arrived incognito to consult his lawyer when police officers in mufti raided the office and hustled him away in an unmarked van to the nearby police station at around 11.20 a.m.

The dramatic arrest occurred when Bijulal was protesting his innocence to a select group of television reporters at the lawyer's office. He said somebody had framed him and he was innocent of the crime.

Bijulal's counsel, Poonthura Soman, had moved the Principal District Sessions Judge, Thiruvananthapuram, K. Babu, seeking anticipatory bail for his client.

The police had been on the stake-out near Mr Soman's office anticipating Bijulal's arrival. They had raided several premises in the district in search of the accountant. Mr. Soman has protested the police action. He said the law enforcement had infringed on lawyer-client privilege.

The police had told the court on August 3 that Bijulal had logged into the treasury online banking network using his user name and password. He had electronically moved ₹2 crore from the Tribal Welfare Fund account operated by the District Collector to the treasury account he held in his name. He later used the user name and password of a retired official to authenticate the transaction.

The accused allegedly also tweaked the software to camouflage the transaction. Bijulal created an "electronic impression" that the cash remained intact in the District Collector's account.

The police said that over several months, Bijulal moved the money from his account to a treasury account held by his wife, Simi. D. Ambi, and from thence to deposit accounts operated by the couple in private banks. They have also named Simi, a government school teacher, as an accused in the case.

The police were verifying how Bijulal came across the password in the first place. "One possibility is that it had remained saved in the system or the accused had retrieved it through some means, possibly even deploying a key logger programme. The work disruption caused by the lockdown appeared to have helped", an investigator had said on Tuesday.

The police, who verified Bijulal's bank account, said the accused had paid income tax for cash he won playing card games online. They said the accountant's finances were sound and not in debt as suspected earlier.

They have booked him on the charge of conspiracy, cheating, impersonation, theft and causing loss to the public exchequer and giving himself undue pecuniary gain. They were also investigating him on suspicion of having amassed wealth beyond his known and legitimate sources of income. The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has evinced interest in the case.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 12:03:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/treasury-fraud-plainclothes-squad-arrest-suspect-accountant-from-lawyers-office/article32275003.ece

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