“I will never forget the day I fell for their rosy promises and deposited the retirement benefits of my 35-year-long service. Little did I know then that I was just another prey for them,” recounts 66-year-old Ponnachan, one of the numerous victims of the Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE) Staff Cooperative Society scam that had rocked the State six years ago.
Mr. Ponnachan’s life has fallen apart with his family finding its extremely difficult to make both ends meet. The victim, who had retired as a Manager (non-cadre) in the KSFE in 2012, has found the going hard after suffering from ventricular tachycardia, a life-threatening heart condition. Ever since, he has been surviving with the assistance of an implantable cardioverter-defribrilator (ICD) that has been planted in his heart. The family had to spend around ₹14 lakh for his treatment.
“I had deposited around ₹23 lakh, almost the entire sum I had received at the time of my retirement. My wife and I had planned to keep the money aside for our daughter’s marriage. While many like me have managed to obtain a portion of our deposits, I am yet to get around ₹12 lakh six years down the line,” he said.
600 await justice
His ordeal is not an isolated one. Around 600 depositors await justice in the case that saw many being defrauded investments as high as ₹30 lakh.
While the Crime Branch had arrested four KSFE officers, who were functionaries of the society when the scam had come to light in 2013, and had submitted a chargesheet three years later, the case was yet to be taken up for hearing.
According to KSFE Staff Cooperative Society Depositors Welfare Association president K. Sudhakaran, a preliminary inquiry conducted by the Cooperation Department had pegged the extent of misappropriation at around ₹23.5 crore, the quantum of loss was later adjusted to ₹19 crore by the Crime Branch.
“Besides, the department had also found 24 senior officials of KSFE to be responsible for the scam,” he said.