Kasaragod: Kasaragod Police’s District Crime Branch investigating the Rs 4.76-crore financial fraud at the CPM-controlled Karadka Agriculturist Welfare Society has recovered nearly 1.5 kg of gold ornaments stolen from the society allegedly by its secretary and main accused Ratheeshan K (38).

The ornaments were recovered from Kerala Bank’s branches in Kanhangad and Periya, said District Crime Branch DySP Shibu Pappachan. “Tomorrow, we will get the remaining gold pawned with Canara Bank’s branches in Periya and Pallikkara,” he said on Friday.

On Thursday, the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court of Kasaragod granted the custody of the three accused — Ahammed Basheer (58), an IUML leader and Pallikkara grama panchayat member; his driver A Abdul Gafoor (26) of Parakalai in Kodom-Bellur grama panchayat; and Anil Kumar (55) of Nellikkat near Kanhangad — to Crime Branch for questioning for three days. Anil Kumar is the brother of Ajaykumar T V, a member of BJP’s Kasaragod district committee and former Kanhangad councillor.

Based on their questioning, the Crime Branch recovered 1,080g of gold ornaments from Kerala Bank’s branch in Kanhangad, said DySP Pappachan. The ornaments were pawned by Anil Kumar and Abdul Gafoor. Another 400g of gold jewellery pawned by Gafoor was recovered from Kerala Bank’s branch in Periya, he said.

Panchayat member Basheer used his relatives to pawn the remaining stolen gold ornaments with Canara Bank’s branches in Periya and Pallikkara, said the officer. “We will recover it tomorrow,” he said on Friday.

The three accused raised Rs 1.22 crore by pawning the gold. “They gave all the money to Ratheeshan,” said the officer.

Ratheeshan has been on the run since May 9, when he stole the gold from the society’s locker.

A team of police officers is in pursuit of him in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, he said. He has turned his mobile phone off making it harder for the police to track him.

The theft was Ratheeshan’s last betrayal of the cooperative society where he was the all-powerful secretary since 2011. 

A member of CPM’s local committee, Ratheeshan illegally took gold loans worth Rs 1.68 crore in the names of his relatives and fictitious persons without keeping anything as collateral, said a complaint filed by the bank’s president Soopi K. He also diverted Rs 1.96 crore of cash credit from Kerala Bank to illegal beneficiaries. Basheer, who runs a tour and travel agency in Udma, 30km away, was one of the beneficiaries, said police. 

According to the FIR, Ratheeshan started defrauding the cooperative society on April 29. But instead of reporting the financial crime to the police, the board of directors asked him to stay away from the society and return the money he diverted. 

But Ratheeshan used the window to walk into the bank and escape with gold jewellery pawned by 41 customers on May 9. The society had given loans worth Rs 1.12 crore on the gold.

The CPM-controlled cooperative society reported the theft and the financial irregularities to the police only on May 13, four days after the broad daylight theft.

However, the CPM’s Karadka Area Committee put out a statement saying that the board of directors took legal steps as soon as the fraud came to light. “Moreover, it is the president of the society who filed a police complaint against him (Ratheeshan).” The statement is silent on the long rope the party gave to Ratheeshan to repay the money he stole from the society even after the fraud came to light.

The statement, released after a meeting attended by MLA C H Kunhambu, also said: “Since the bank is controlled by the CPM, the party will be cautious to ensure the depositors do not lose their money and borrowers who pledged their gold do not lose their jewellery”.

The party called for a thorough investigation into the fraud and immediate arrest of Ratheeshan.