Vigilance raid at state owned KSFE leaves many ‘red faced’

Published: Nov 30, 2020, 2:55 pm IST

Thiruvananthapuram:  While the Pinarayi Vijayan government has been blaming various Central agencies for the ongoing probes in several cases, on Friday the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) came knocking at the doors of 30 branches of the state owned Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE). At the end of the day many including Finance Minister Thomas Issac and the chairman of KSFE were up in arms.

The KSFE is incorporated as a miscellaneous non-banking financial company and is fully owned by the Government of Kerala. Its turnover is in excess of Rs 40,000 crores.

Its most popular product is the chits business.

Issac went hammer and tongs at the VACB and termed its actions as sheer ‘madness’. The opposition Congress and the BJP were quick to latch on to the issue.

Phileepose Thomas, chairman of the KSFE and a former Congress leader who quit the party after being denied a seat and later joined the CPI-M, said the VACB failed to comply with rules and he was neither informed of the raid before or after it took place.

Issac was also peeved as he, despite the KSFE being directly under his ministry, had no clue about the raid.

This issue surfaced at the weekly party meeting of the CPI-M party bosses, including Vijayan. Here too no one had a clue about what was happening in the VACB raids, forcing the newly appointed party state secretary A. Vijayaraghavan to say it will be probed.

But on Monday it surfaced that senior secretary Sanjay Kaul knew about the raid and it was carried out after allegations surfaced that things were not hunky dory at the KSFE.

The raid was preceded by a secret inspection and after ascertaining that things were not that clean at the KSFE, the VACB units was asked to conduct a raid in at least one KSFE branch. But on Friday 30 branches were raided.

And at the end of the raids, it surfaced that there were lapses in the way things were being run at the KSFE. Kaul is now expected to hand the raid report to Vijayan, under whom the VACB comes.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said it’s strange and surprising that Issac and the CPI-M are up in arms over the raid.

“Is the VACB only needed to probe cases against the opposition. KSFE is a financial institution and is a reputed one with credibility and it should be the responsibility of the government to probe if there is anything wrong at KSFE and it should be done,” said Chennithala to the media on Monday.

Issac is already under fire from the opposition for his alleged leak of a CAG report, while Vijayan is yet to comment on this issue. Since Vijayan and Issac are not on the same page on many issues, it would be Vijayaraghavan who will have to answer a few unpleasant questions which the opposition parties and the media will be raising.