The Enforcement Directorate of India (ED) has launched a money laundering case against Dubai-based NRI CC Thampi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for alleged wrongful approval of an engineering college in Thrissur district in Kerala by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
A show-cause notice has also been served to Thampi for alleged foreign exchange violation to the tune of INR 288 crore. ED has booked Thampi on the basis of an FIR lodged by CBI on December 28, 2009. Though CBI had earlier closed the case, citing lack of evidence, but now it has got approval from the court to look into the allegations once again.
In the FIR, the accused named include Thampi, chairman and managing trustee of the Thrissur-based Cheruvathur Foundation, and Manju Singh, the then AICTE’s regional director.
It was alleged that Thejus Engineering College in Thrissur set up by Thampi did not adhered to the laid-out criteria of AICTE.
According to the norms of AICTE, any society or Trust proposing to start a new engineering college had to own not less than 10 acres of land if the institution was in a remote place. Further, proper infrastructure including a building with instructional area and facilities for administrative, residential and other amenities, had to be set up. However, it was alleged that the engineering college did not meet the criteria.
On receiving the proposal for the new engineering college, the then AICTE regional director allegedly forwarded it to the head office without verifying the particulars.
An official said, “The AICTE headquarters issued a letter of intent on March 17, 2009, to the Cheruvathur Foundation, which, on May 13 the same year, informed the officials about its preparedness for the visit of an Expert Committee to the college,”
“Manju Singh was part of the committee that visited the college on June 15, 2009. The same day, it submitted a “false report” certifying the documents and infrastructure, claiming that their physical verification had been done.”
Based on the report, the AICTE issued a letter of approval for the institution. “After getting the letter, the Foundation enrolled students and allegedly received wrongful gain in the form of capitation fee,” the official said.