Deposing before a judicial commission probing the ‘solar scam’, prime accused in the case Saritha S Nair Wednesday alleged that she had paid a bribe of Rs 1.90 crore to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy through his personal aides to set up mega power projects in the state. Nair also claimed she had paid a bribe of Rs 40 lakh to Power Minister and senior Congress leader Aryadan Muhammed.
Denying the allegations, Chandy said, “For what purpose would she have bribed me? Did she get any advantage or financial benefit from the state government that requires payment of bribe? Nair and her company Team Solar had not gained the benefit of a single paisa from the government. Nor had the government incurred any loss in the fraud.”
Nair’s allegations come a day after Chandy refused to undergo a lie-detector test while deposing before the judicial commission.
Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan together floated the firm Team Solar Renewable Energy Solutions Private Limited in 2011, and were arrested in 2013 for allegedly duping investors from whom they collected crores for a solar power project. Last month, Radhakrishnan, now serving life term for the murder of his wife, claimed before the commission that he had paid Rs 5.5 crore to Chandy as bribe.
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Nair told the commission Wednesday that after forming the company in 2011, she and Radhakrishnan wanted to handle mega power projects in the solar sector. She said she was deputed to win government projects as well as concessions and incentives from the government.
She claimed she first met Chandy in his office under the name Lakshmi Nair and briefed him about a project, following which the CM asked her to meet Muhammed. She said she met the power minister and later approached Chandy again, as she had not heard back from the government.
In his statement, Chandy had told the commission that he had met Saritha three times, but came to know about the charges of financial fraud only after her arrest.
Nair alleged that Chandy’s additional personal assistant Jikkumon Jacob got in touch with her and demanded a Rs 7 crore bribe for the CM. She claimed that she paid the first instalment of the bribe — Rs 1.10 crore — to Chandy’s Delhi-based unofficial aide Thomas Kuruvilla on December 27, 2012. The amount was handed over to him in his car, she claimed. The second instalment of the bribe — Rs 80 lakh — was paid to Jacob in Nair’s house in Thiruvananthapuram in May, 2013, she claimed.
She also alleged Muhammed’s personal secretary Keshavan demanded Rs 2 crore as bribe in exchange for government assistance to implement solar projects. But he was paid a total of Rs 40 lakh on two occasions in 2013 at his official residence in Thiruvananthapuram, she claimed.