Winding up its five-day-long search and seizure operations, including raids on premises of sidelined AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala’s relatives and former aides of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the Income Tax (I-T) Department on Monday claimed to have unearthed cash, valuables and documents related to undisclosed income calculated at approximately Rs 1,430 crore.
Sources in I-T Department said hundreds of incriminating documents were seized, besides Rs 7 crore cash and jewellery worth approximately Rs 5 crore.
The offices of AIADMK mouthpiece Jaya TV (which is run by people said to be pro-Sasikala in the faction-ridden party), houses and offices of Sasikala’s nephew Vivek Jayaraman and his sister, Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan’s house in Thanjavur, and Sengamalathaayar College in Thanjavur, owned by Sasikala’s brother Divakaran, were among the 100-odd premises raided since Thursday morning.
Maintaining that valuables and documents on allegedly undeclared assets, worth Rs 1,430 crore, were seized, a senior I-T officer in Chennai said, “We are still assessing more incriminating documents and their value. They (accused) used shell companies to route undisclosed cash — to be invested in real estate businesses later, buying vehicles, etc. We found many shell companies lying idle were suddenly activated after demonetisation (last November).”
The officer claimed that large sums of money were deposited in accounts of these companies, and subsequently withdrawn in cash to “officially use them (in) white in the market”.
T T V Dinakaran, appointed AIADMK’s deputy chief by Sasikala before her imprisonment in Bengaluru in a disproportionate assets case and now sidelined by the ruling faction of the party, has slammed the BJP-led Central government for the I-T raids and challenged the party’s political motive. DMK leader M K Stalin and several other opposition leaders also criticised the operation and questioned the outcome of similar raids in the past.
A senior official involved in the search operations said Tamil Nadu is the state with most shell companies after Gujarat and Maharashtra. “After demonetisation, they deposited black money in bank accounts of these shell companies and turned them white,” the official said. The official added that it may not be possible to track all such suspicious companies and their operations in the post-demonetisation period.
According to an officer with knowledge of the raids that began on Thursday, Rs 67 lakh cash and a collection of diamond and jewels were found from a college owned by a close relative of Sasikala. “The cash has been seized and we have issued prohibitory orders on the diamond and jewels, as their accurate valuation cannot be done immediately. We have sealed them on the premises and will value them later on a mutually convenient date,” the officer said.
About summoning Vivek Jayaraman, Sasikala’s nephew and son of Ilavarasi, who is also in Bengaluru jail, and Poongundran, who was a personal aide of Jayalalithaa, for further questioning, the I-T official called it part of normal procedures in the search. “We did not seize anything major from Poongundran’s house, besides a few diaries with some indications. We are questioning him for that,” the official said, refusing to reveal details of seizures from Jayaraman.