Indian Catholic News

Kerala priest arrested in loan scam

The priest has been remanded in custody for 14 days.


Police in Kerala arrested Father Thomas Peelianickal of Changanassery diocese June 19 in connection with an agricultural loan scam that has left several farmers debtors without their knowledge.

The priest has been remanded in custody for 14 days.

He is executive director of the Kuttanad Development Council, that is accused of forging documents in the names of scores of farmers in Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, and taking loans worth millions of rupees from banks.

Many of the ‘beneficiaries’ of the loans taken by the organization came to know of it only when banks contacted them asking to payoff the backlog of unpaid amounts in their names.

One of the key accused in the case, Rojo Joseph, who is also a Nationalist Congress Party official, has gone into hiding.

Joseph’s wife and two office staffers at the Kuttanad Development Council are also accused in the case.

Fr. Peelianickal is facing a dozen cases related to the loan scam, of which he has been granted bail in one case.

His lawyer argued that the priest was not directly involved in the matter, and that he had only recommended to banks to disburse loans to agricultural societies that had approached him for funds.

The Crime Branch had summoned him to take his statement a number of times but the priest had failed to show up each time, citing health reasons.

On June 19, the police arrested him at the offices of the Kuttanad Development Council.

Source: Gulfnews

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