Solar scam: Gave Rs 1.9 crore to Chandy as bribe, says Saritha

Solar scam: Gave Rs 1.9 crore  to Chandy as bribe, says Saritha

The solar fraud heat was on Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Wednesday after key accused Saritha S Nair told the judicial commission probing the scam that she paid Rs 1.9 crore as bribe in two instalments to CM.

Deposing before the G Sivarajan Commission in Kochi, Saritha said the money was handed over to Thomas Kuruvila, Chandy’s “unofficial” aide in Delhi; Rs 1.1 crore was handed over in December 2012 in Delhi and Rs 80 lakh at her residence in Thiruvananthapuram, two weeks before her arrest in 2013.

 She also said Rs 40 lakh was paid as bribe to Power Minister and senior Congress leader Aryadan Mohammed for favourable decisions in connection with projects her company was proposing.

Saritha told the commission that Chandy himself had directed her to get in touch with Kuruvila. She said Jikkumon Jacob, a member of the chief minister’s staff who was removed from office after reports of his links with accused in the scam, had demanded Rs 7 crore as bribe for the chief minister.

“I used to speak with the chief minister on his private number between 6 am and 7 am,” Saritha told reporters after her examination.

Her statement comes a day after chief minister himself told the commission, in a marathon 14-hour examination, that no favours were extended by his office to the accused and he “could have met” Saritha three times.

Saritha stated that contrary to Chandy’s claims, she had met him along with Sreedharan Nair, one of the first complainants in the case.

The solar fraud was anchored by Team Solar, a company run by Biju Radhakrishnan and former partner Saritha who collected money from potential investors in solar and wind energy projects by claiming they had connections in the government and the chief minister’s office. Biju is serving a life sentence in connection with the murder of his wife Reshmi.

The new charge will be a severe blow to the Congress-led government which has already lost two ministers over the bar bribery scandal. Saritha said she was coming out with the charges because promises of repayment of money paid as bribe turned out false.

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