Kerala’s Popular Finance fraud: Company’s owners Thomas Daniel, wife Prabha arrested; Interpol help to be sought

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A special team of 25 cops under Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police KG Simon has been constituted to investigate the case

The Kerala Police arrested owners of Popular Finance on Saturday amid rumours that they had fled the country. A nation-wide alert had been sounded against them.

The finance company's managing director Thomas Daniel and his wife Prabha Daniel, who is the managing partner of the company, were arrested from Changanassery in Kottayam district, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a press conference.

The Delhi police had on Friday arrested the daughters of Thomas, identified as Rinu Mariyam Thomas and Riya Ann Thomas, while they were planning to leave for Australia.

They have been brought to Kochi on Saturday afternoon and taken to Pathanamthitta. 

Rinu is the CEO of Popular Finance and Riya is the director board member of the finance company

He also said that a special team of 25 police personnel under Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police KG Simon has been constituted to investigate the case. Southern IGP Harthita Attalloori will supervise the probe, he added.

Vijayan said that Interpol's help will be sought as it is suspected that the accused may have carried out transactions abroad as well.

A special team led by Adoor DSP Binukumar has been carrying out searches at the Vakayar head office of Popular Finance and bank accounts of the directors were frozen on the investigators’ request.

The head office of the company was sealed on Friday following the instruction of the Pathanamthitta sub-court following a petition filed by a depositor.

The police in a prima facie finding assessed that the Konni-Vakayar-headquartered Popular Finance might have committed Rs 2,000-crore fraud.

Unable to return the deposits, Thomas, who was on the run for the last few weeks, filed an insolvency petition in a local court.

The swindling came to light when the accused stopped paying interest to the investors, who approached the company's branches to withdraw their deposits.

As the investors approached, the branches started downing the shutters and the investors approached police with complaints.

Hundreds of people including NRIs have invested money in Popular Finance, which has a  total of 274 branches, including those in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. Several individual investors have invested from lakhs to crores of rupees in the firm against a promise of high interest rate.

It is alleged that the company had been functioning without proper licence or clearance mandatory under the RBI rules. The authorities also failed to take action against the company based on the complaints in this regard.

Image credit: The New Indian Express

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