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Thiruvananthapuram, August 27, 2020
Thousands of investors who deposited their hard-earned money in a Kerala-headquartered gold loan firm -- Popular Finance -- have been left in the lurch as the owners have gone missing, said a top police official.
Headquartered in Pathanamthitta district, the firm has been in the business of gold loans and taking deposits from people since 1965. The company has 247 branches in the state.
Managing partner Thomas Daniel Roy and his wife Prabha have reportedly gone missing.
Pathanamthitta Superintendent of Police K. G. Simon said complaints have started pouring in that the people who deposited money have not got back their deposits.
"From our estimates, the depositors' loss would be to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore. We have got enough proof to arrest the owners," said Simon.
Konni legislator K. U. Janeesh Kumar said "from what we have heard, this looks like an organised fraud by the owners."
"The police are doing their job and by now the various bank accounts of the owners have been freezed and information has been given to ensure that they are not allowed to travel abroad. Till the complaints started to come in, this was a credible financial institution," said Kumar.
Pathanamthitta Lok Sabha member Anto Antony said he has been besieged with anxious investors who have been calling him ever since the news surfaced.
"I have asked the SP to ensure that all the steps are taken to see that investors get justice," said Antony.
An investor said, "three months back, on finding that the quarterly interest was not credited, I went to the company and they said it would be done and now the news comes that their offices are closed."
However Thomas Daniel in a press release said that "this is a temporary phase of business getting affected due to COVID" and that they would honour all their commitments and for that they need time of about nine months.
"We have not gone missing, but given the present situation, we are just staying away and we will return," said Daniel.