By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jan 2 (IANS) Over two months after Goodwin Jewellers Pvt Ltd abruptly shut shop after allegedly cheating hundreds of customers of over Rs 25 crore, it has now emerged that the company has even duped public sector lender, Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The PNB – already in the limelight after the Mehul Choksi-Nirav Modi scam – faces a default of loans of over Rs 26.50 crore given to the Goodwin Jewellers Pvt Ltd and its promoters.
These include Goodwin Jewellers’ Managing Director Sunilkumar Akkarakaran, his brother and Director Sudheerkumar Mohanan Akkarakaran, and their parents, Mohanan G. Akkarakaran and Santha Mohanan Akkarakaran.
While the two siblings Sunilkumar and Sudheerkumar’s known addresses are shown in Dombivli town of Thane, their parents hail from Thrissur in Kerala.
Late last October, when the Goodwin Jewellers scam suddenly erupted, creating a huge furore, the two brothers had already disappeared and gone into hiding.
As Goodwin Jewellers abruptly shut over a dozen of its big showrooms in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Kerala and the Middle East in mid-October 2019, around 1,200 panicky customers of the company lodged complaints with the Thane EOW which swung into action.
The customers said they were lured by Goodwin Jewellers with attractive schemes – one offering 16 percent interest on fixed deposits and another gold or cash based on the annual deposits – much higher than banks.
Thane Deputy Commissioner of Police, Economic Offences Wing, Sanjay Jadhav had then told IANS that they were investigating the matter.
Late in October, Sunilkumar and Sudheerkumar had released a recorded video message from an unknown hideout, claiming they are being hounded by extortionists who had demanded huge sums of money, forcing them (the two brothers) to go underground.
They also assured the customers/depositors not to worry as they would dispose off all their assets to repay the dues, and promised that they would “live and die in Maharashtra” without running away anywhere.
However, after the Thane EOW turned the heat on them by seizing their properties and sealing their bank accounts, the duo finally surrendered in mid-December 2019.
Around the time of the brothers’ disappearance, the PNB’s Worli Branch also peeked inside its own exposure to the company – which turned out to be a shocking Rs 26.50 crore.
Moving swiftly to avoid further flak, in mid-November, the Worli branch declared the Goodwin Jewellers’ accounts as non-performing assets (NPA).
The defaulter company had mortgaged some 15 big and small properties comprising plots of land, farmlands, flats, houses, etc, in Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu to the PNB as security, which the bank has restrained them from disposing off in any manner.
The PNB has served a notice warning that if the Goodwin Jewellers fails to clear its dues by January 18, it would initiate further proceedings under the relevant laws to recover its loans.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])