A special judge court has denied bail to the two promoters of a well-known Chennai jewellery store, who were arrested for swindling deposits worth ₹26 crores made by 1,689 customers under their various gold purchase schemes.
Brothers Sujith Cherian, the MD, and Sunil Cherian, director of the popular Kerala Fashion Jewellery (KFG), had cheated people of their gold and money between 2016 and 2019. Suresh, the DSP of the Economic Offenses Wing told NDTV that in 2019, the police had filed a case of cheating, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and inducing delivery of property,.
He added that the duo was arrested and the special judge court under Tamil Nadu Protection of Interest of Depositors did not grant them bail saying that they may “tamper with the evidence”. The schemes were endorsed by actor Prakash Raj and actor-director Lakshmi Ramakrishnan.
The aggrieved victims of this scam are now hopeful that they may get back some of their money. The NDTV report quoted one such customer of this jewellery store – Sridevi Ramakrishnan, who had pledged her 312 gram gold for a ₹5.4 lakh loan under KFJ’s Gold Loan Scheme, during an emergency in 2016. She got back only 15 grams and though they had promised to return the rest by selling their property, they had not done anything.
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Jiji Mathew, an IT professional, used to pay ₹25,000 a month under a scheme that would block gold at the lowest price since 2017. He had made a total deposit of ₹5.7 lakh planning to use this gold saving chit scheme to help fund his daughter’s higher education. “But they shut shop in 2019 and our plans crashed,” he told NDTV.
He believed that with their arrest, which had been pending for a long time, could lead to the authorities now freezing their properties and initiating recovery.
S Lingasamy, a civil engineer was the one who had filed the first complaint. He had joined a five-year scheme with KFJ buying 100 grams of gold at ₹ 1,999 a gram. He has lost two lakh rupees in that scheme but had made another investment with an eye to use the appreciation in gold prices to fund his children’s education.
The Cherian brothers have said in an affidavit that vested interests had started a false campaign against them which had led to a mass withdrawal of deposits and consequently led to the closure of their gold stores. The prosecution has claimed that the brothers diverted funds to benamis and friends.