A special investigation team (SIT) of the Kerala Crime Branch has decided to progress with the arrest of Indian Union Muslim League MLA M C Kamarudheen in the Fashion Gold scam. The SIT had invited the Manjeshwaram MLA to the Kasargod Superintendent of Police’s office for questioning. ASP P Vivek Kumar had reported that the team will initiate arrest procedures by today itself. The officers had also invited PK Pookoya Thangal, a district committee member of the IUML, for questioning. Early reports indicated that he might be arrested alongside Kamarudheen. The officers have registered the arrest under IPC 420 and 34.
Following the arrest, Kamarudheen had said that his arrest is “politically motivates”. “The government is trying to hide its problems by making me the sacrificial lamb. This arrest is politically motivated. The arrest is to stop me from repaying my investors,” he told media persons. Of the 77 cases under investigation, he has been arrested for four under non-bailable offences. The cases had been registered with Chandera police station in Kasargod. The officers have taken the MLA for medical check-up before presenting him in front of the magistrate.
Addressing media persons, Kamarudheen’s lawyer Vinod Kumar said that the cheating case wouldn’t stand. “The investors themselves have mentioned in their complaints that they had received dividends until the shop shut. That indicates that there was no intention to cheat the investors,” said he. He added that they would start the bail petition.
While the opposition has cried foul in regards to the “rushed arrest” of Kamarudheen and described it as “politically motivated”, KPCC President Mullappally Ramachandran said, “The law should go its way.” Meanwhile, IUML has called for a meeting of its top members to decide on a position in regards to the arrest, even though they have said that they are on the side of the investors.
Kamarudheen, along with others, started Fashion Gold International in 2006 at Kasargod. While the Manjeshwaram MLA is the company’s Chairman, Pookoya Thangal is the Director. They had reportedly received over Rs 140 crore from over 750 investors, a majority of whom are Muslim League supporters and their families. While the company grew to include three more gold companies with the same address, it shut down operations in December 2019. The problem started when the two IUML members failed to return investors their money.
The cases mounted over the year and by August, there were almost 80 registered in Kannur and Kasargod. Allegations surrounding the case spread, with political parties using it to their advantage. Meanwhile, the MLA moved the High Court to dismiss cheating cases against him. He had argued that it was a violation of the contract with investors and thus it is only a civil case. Further investigation revealed that Kamarudheen and Pookoya Thangal had bought land using the money and that it wasn’t registered in the company’s name.
The officers have said that they are investigating around 77 cases related to the investment scam, while Kamarudheen is suspect in over 100 related cases registered in police stations in Kannur and Kasargod. The officers had questioned the MLA on the company’s assets. Earlier, the investigation team had also questioned Kallatra Mahin Haji, who had been employed by the League to mediate between the investors and Kamarudheen. However, reportedly, the mediation fell apart since the league learnt that the MLA had used the investments to buy land and that he had spent the rest of the money. With the company assets tied with the investigation, selling it to repay the investors was out of the option.
Moreover, in the initial stages, UDF leaders had explained that Kamarudheen’s case is that of business failure and not cheating as the “allegations” say. However, as the investigation tightened, UDF members as well as the League distanced themselves from the Manjeshwaram MLA and told media that it was “his responsibility”.