A photo of a Jaguar XF that says “Kerala Maritime Board Government of Kerala” on its number plate is being shared on both Facebook and Twitter by many alleging corruption. The claim made is that the Government of Kerala is spending the money received by the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) is being spent on buying luxury cars for government employees.
The photo was first tweeted by a Twitter handle @chathootti saying, “Jaguar XF. Price starts from 50 lakhs. ‘Kerala Maritime Board, Government of Kerala’. Chase your relief fund,” with a wink emoji, suggesting corruption. This tweet was made on August 30, and has been retweeted more than 2,500 times and liked by more than 3,200 users.
On August 31, Facebook user Abhishek Singh shared the same image from his account saying, “Total amount of Kerala relief fund deposited in CM Relief Fund account has been shown in one picture. Kerala Maritime Board car – Jaguar. This model starts from Rs 50 lakh. This is Communist model of governance in Kerala.” This Facebook post has gotten almost 1,000 shares and 600 reactions.
The car belongs to VJ Mathew, senior advocate and the founder of an international law firm VJ Mathew and Co..Mathew was appointed as the chairman of the Kerala Maritime Board constituted by the government of Kerala in January 2018.
Since the number plate is visible in the photo, the vehicle’s registration details could be accessed. The car is registered in VJ Mathew’s name in 2014. Mathew couldn’t have bought the car in 2014 using the money the Kerala government received in 2018.
Times Fact-Check team contacted Mathew. He rubbished the false claims being propagated on social media and said that he took up the role as the chairman of Kerala Maritime Board as an honorary position and is not charging the government even a single penny.
“I am offering my services to the Government of Kerala for free. Yes, that Jaguar is mine but I bought it with my own money in 2014. I am not even taking petrol allowance from the government. Fake claims like the one using my car is unfortunate.”
We did a reverse-image search on Google to find a few times the photo has been used, the earliest being the one tweeted by the Twitter user @chathootti.
Times Fact-Check team found the claim that money from CMDRF is being used to buy luxury cars for state government employees to be false.