The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday raided premises of former minister and CPI(M) MLA A C Moideen and some others as part of a money laundering investigation linked to an alleged Rs 100 crore fraud in the party-controlled Karuvannur cooperative bank, official sources said.
The federal agency is covering about half-a-dozen premises in the state as part of the fresh searches being conducted under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
Raids were carried out by the ED in this case in August last year too.
The residence of Moideen, a former minister of local self government, industries and cooperation, at Wadakkancherry in Thrissur district and those linked to him are being searched for evidence of gathering details of "benami" assets, the sources said.
The ED teams are being escorted by central paramilitary force personnel.
Moideen, 67, is a senior CPI(M) leader and he represents the Kunnamkulam constituency in the state Assembly. This case of alleged fraud, beginning 2010, in the Thrissur-based CPI(M) controlled bank triggered a political row in Kerala a year ago.
The ED's preliminary probe found that "on the instructions of CPI(M) district level leaders and committee members who governed the bank, loans were allegedly disbursed in cash to non-member benamis by mortgaging properties of poor members without their knowledge and laundered to the benefit of the accused".
The agency suspects many such "benami" loans were disbursed allegedly on the instructions of Moideen. The money laundering case stems from 16 FIRs registered by the Kerala Police (crime branch) in Thrissur.
The ED had carried out similar raids in August last year at six locations, including a branch of the bank located in Irinjalakuda, Thrissur and it had attached assets worth Rs 30.70 crore of a commission agent of the bank, Bijoy A K.
"Bijoy A K was illegally sanctioned and disbursed loan to the tune of Rs 26.60 crore in cash without any collateral due to systematic conspiracy hatched and perpetuated by the secretary and committee members of the bank since year 2010," the ED had alleged last year.
The agency said in its official statement that "multiple bogus loans were sanctioned by the bank on the same property without the knowledge of members of society." "The loan amounts were disbursed in cash and also huge cash deposits were found in books of account of bank," it said.
The Karuvannur service cooperative bank was also under scrutiny of the Registrar of cooperative societies in Thiruvananthapuram. After the FIR by Kerala Police was registered in July 2021, the Registrar in their audit found "diversion" of more than Rs 100 crore, the ED had said.
The Kerala government, in August 2021, suspended 16 officials for their alleged lapses in detecting this alleged fraud at the bank.
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