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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Corruption allegations: 51 premises linked to TN former minister S P Velumani searched

Velumani, who was among the most powerful ministers in then Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami's cabinet, was holding the municipal administration portfolio when the alleged corruption and violations were carried out.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: August 11, 2021 12:00:56 pm
TN former minister S P Velumani

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) conducted searches at 51 premises linked to the former AIADMK minister S P Velumani on Tuesday in connection with major corruption charges.

Velumani, who was among the most powerful ministers in then Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s cabinet, was holding the municipal administration portfolio when the alleged corruption and violations were carried out.

Under the DVAC’s scanner are deals carried out in connection with tenders worth Rs 811 crore allotted to companies associated to Velumani.

A senior DVAC official said searches at the former minister’s premises in Coimbatore, Chennai, Kancheepuram and Dindigul were going on till late on Tuesday evening.

A DVAC FIR, dated August 9, registered against Velumani and 17 others, says tenders worth Rs 811 crore were allotted to companies closely associated Velumani between 2014 and 2018 by the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Coimbatore Corporation, when he was the municipal administration minister. Another accused in the case is P Anbarasan, Velumani’s brother and a partner of the firm, P Senthil and Co.

The FIR accused Velumani of “large scale favouritism by abusing his official position.” Listing out a number of firms associated to Velumani, including P Senthil and Co, KCP Engineers Private Limited, Invicta Meditek Ltd and a dozen others, the FIR says unknown officials of the Greater Chennai and Coimbatore Corporation “blatantly violated all rules of business allocation of tenders” in favour of these firms.

Velumani himself was a registered contractor of the Coimbatore Municipal Corporation from 1991, and a partner of the firm started by his family, until he resigned in 2001 to contest in the Assembly polls.

The FIR lists out some of the major evidence against Velumani. According to the FIR, Senthil and Co and one Rajan Rathinasamy – both registered contractors of Coimbatore Municipal Corporation – were in the bidding for 47 tenders among themselves between 2014 and 2017. Both contractors were registered under the same mobile number and the same IP address was used to submit their bids, indicating that both are one.

Against the rule that competitive bids in a tender submitted by a company and another bid submitted by one of its own directors are prohibited, there were five tenders in Coimbatore corporation in the 2014-15 period in which KCP Engineers and its director K Chandraprakash bid amongst themselves and one of them won the contact.

According to the FIR, there was a clear pattern of collusive bidding in 14 tenders of the Coimbatore corporation, worth Rs 5.86 crore in 2014-15. Only two companies were in the bidding process including KCP Engineers and Robert Raja. KCP Engineers won all the 14 contracts.

The Earnest Money Deposit (EMD), a fee to participate in the tender process, for Raja was paid from the account of Sundari, mother of Chandraprakash, director of KCP Engineers.

The FIR also alleges serious violations during the tender bidding stage, negotiation and execution of the work.

Meantime, Arappor Iyakkam, a Chennai-based anti-corruption group, demanded a deeper probe into the alleged corruption charges against. Velumani and his associates. It was Arappor Iyakkam that had filed a PIL at the Madras High Court seeking registration of an FIR against the then minister, contractors and senior officials of Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations.

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