by Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
November 24, 2017
A critical point has been repeated in these columns about rampant corruption being promoted by the federal and state governments as a key policy to loot the national resources at various levels by different sections of thick-skinned people, both male and female. Also, it has repeatedly been said that Tamil Nadu is one of top ranking corrupt states in India, also promoting mafias of all sorts, including in cricket and other Bharatratna level entertainments, to siphon off the resources of the states according to the strength of their links to the government, elected members of parliament and assembly and other agencies. . .
Here the details of looting of Tamil Nadu by a tiny section of ruling AIADMK led by now-jailed Sasikala and out of jail Dinakaran are provided. Like cricketers, even the politicians of less importance also have made a lot of money of all sorts from all possible sources with the knowledge of the government and state. ..
Recently, Income Tax officials of the government of India raided the houses and offices of relatives and close friends of Sasikala and Dinkaran. Big tax evasion by Sasikala, Dinakaran of income of ₹1,430 crores has been discovered, and many documents have been recovered that could pave way for further income tax evasions of many more people.
Evaluation of documents still on, final figure may be slightly different, but huge tax evasion would be unearthed. Officials of the tax department said that until now a tax evasion of an income of ₹1,430 crore had been detected.
These so-called big people evaded taxes and put the money somewhere secretly.
At the end of a largest ever search operation by the Income Tax Department in Tamil Nadu that lasted first for five days in the premises of many people with huge assets, and covered the properties of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s former aide and jailed AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala and her extended family members.
Besides the seizure of ₹7 crore in cash and jewels worth more than ₹5 crore, documents about large-scale immovable assets were found during the searches in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, New Delhi and Bengaluru. “As many as 15 bank lockers were frozen, and several kilograms of gold and diamond jewelry that were claimed to have been accounted for were kept under safe custody for evaluation,” a source said.
A senior I-T official said: “This is not the final figure. We are still evaluating more documents, and the figure could change. But we have concluded the raids and are now scrutinizing the documents that our team found during the five-day searches at 187 locations”.
As part of the “standard procedure,” Vivek Jayaraman, 28, managing director of Jaya TV and son of Sasikala’s sister-in-law J. Illavarasi, went to the Income Tax department’s Investigation Wing office in Nungambakkam on Monday evening to sign papers related to the searches. “Vivek and certain other family members came only to sign the papers.
Income Tax sleuths carried out five days simultaneous multi-city raids on 187 premises including those linked to sidelined AIADMK leaders V K Sasikala and her nephew T T V Dhinakaran and Tamil television channel Jaya TV over suspected tax evasion.
Sources said all business transactions of Vivek, including the dealings of Jazz Cinemas, of which he is in charge, are being scrutinized. Two years ago, Chennai’s largest multiplex, SPI Cinemas, sold its 11-screen multiplex, Luxe Cinemas, situated in a mall in Velachery, to Jazz Cinemas. Those who were involved in business dealings with Vivek are being questioned about past transactions.
Of the 187 premises where the searches were conducted, most of it was in Tamil Nadu, a handful in Hyderabad, three in New Delhi, and one in Bengaluru, he said. Such premises also include some which are linked to Jaya TV, Dhinakaran, Sasikala, and her associates. Sources said all business transactions of Vivek, including the dealings of Jazz Cinemas, of which he is in charge, are being scrutinized. Two years ago, Chennai’s largest multiplex, SPI Cinemas, sold its 11-screen multiplex, Luxe Cinemas, situated in a mall in Velachery, to Jazz Cinemas. Those who were involved in business dealings with Vivek are being questioned about past transactions.
Such premises also include some which are linked to Jaya TV, Dhinakaran, Sasikala, and her brother Divakaran and they all fall under the category of assessees tagged for suspected tax evasion, the official said. The brewery and cinema firm is reported to be associated with some of those linked to Jaya TV, Sasikala, and Dhinakaran. Jaya TV, which was named after late chief minister Jayalalithaa and was the party’s mouthpiece, is now perceived to be favorably politically disposed towards Sasikala and Dhinakaran.
I-T officials identified dozens of shell companies, and specific teams were probing the source of funds to those companies in recent years. “We have begun the process of summoning the persons concerned to get their statements on the evasion; assets seized or detected. Though the raids have formally concluded, the quantum of seizures will go up, since 15 lockers have to be opened. The value of immovable properties identified will be assessed soon,” the senior I-T official said. He said the exercise of analyzing the documents, valuing the properties, recording the statements of persons concerned and initiating action would be a time-consuming process.
They said have to examine the documents of movable and immovable assets and check how much of it has been brought to account. We have also found diamond jewelry but could not ascertain their value. “We will get a certified valuer to ascertain the value of the diamonds. In the women’s hostel of the college belonging to Sasikala’s brother Dhivaharan, we found six Rolex watches and are now referring to the watch models to get their estimated value. A huge amount of cash was also found at the hostel,” he said.
Searches were conducted only in the premises of those who held management positions, their associates, confidants or aides, the official said.
Also, the searches followed allegations covering aspects like shell companies, dubious investments, suspicious fund flow and its transfers and fudging of account.
Some of the key places that were raided by the IT are office of Jaya TV, a place near the Poes Garden residence of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa where once JJ TV operated from, a house of Krishna Priya, the daughter of Ilavarasi located in Habibullah Road and several business houses and shell companies and the premises of aides close to Dhinakaran, jailed AIADMK leader Sasikala and her brother Divakaran. The official said that almost all premises belonging to associates of Divakaran were raided in Mannargudi. The house of Krishna Priya, the daughter of Illavarasi, where Sasikala stayed during her parole, was also raided by Income Tax department.
Jaya TV, started by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 1999, was a mouthpiece of the AIADMK. Members of Sasikala’s family have been controlling the operations of the media house for many years now.
Sasikala’s nephew Vivek Jayakumar, son of Ilavarasi who is also in jail, currently manages the affairs of the TV channel. Vivek also controls Jazz Cinema, which is also under Income Tax scanner. “We raided Krishna Priya’s house as she is the one who is controlling the entire shell companies,” said the Income Tax official. He said that a large number of incriminating documents was seized from there.
Jaya TV premises in Chennai and Dhinakaran’s farmhouse were searched as part of ‘Operation Clean Money,’ under which premises belonging to ten Income Tax assessee groups were searched, a senior I-T official told PTI here.
Dubbing the searches a “conspiracy,” Dhinakaran, who has now lost the party symbol and he is no more a member of the ruling AIADMK, alleged it was to oust him and his jailed aunt from politics. A man with lost of wealth made during the Jayalalithaa reign, Dhinakaran said his farmhouse off Auroville at Puducherry was searched. He, however, denied that his house in Chennai was raided. On the raid in the farmhouse, the I-T official said it was held as part of searches into Jaya TV’s account.
On the rationale behind the searches, the official said it was launched after identification of “clusters of shell companies, cash deposits in banks after demonetization and reliable information of acquisition of benami properties and Financial Intelligence Unit’s inputs.”
The AIADMK’s Karnataka unit leader, Pugalendhi, who has very close contact with jailed Sasikala and outside Dinakaran and other suspected leaders. Most of them sought time to appear before the department in response to their summons.
Jaya Harini, the abode of sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, is bustling with activity since Thursday morning as party cadres start gathering near the residence to show their solidarity. The house was one of the few premises belonging to Sasikala’s extended family but was not touched by the Income Tax department as raids were conducted in 187 places belonging to the close aides and relatives of Dhinakaran and Sasikala.
Dhinakaran, the deposed AIADMK deputy general secretary, condemned as a “conspiracy” the searches undertaken by the Income Tax department (I-T) mostly in Tamil Nadu and targeted the Centre. Meanwhile, former state transport minister Senthil Balaji, Perambur MLA P Vetrrivel, Ambattur MLA V Alexander and Theagaraya Nagar MLA P Kalairajan and other leaders owing allegiance to Dhinakaran were seen flocking at his residence.
However, Income Tax department denied that the raids have anything to do with politics. “It is part of Operation Clean Money Drive which was launched in Tamil Nadu,” said a senior Income Tax official. “We had identified ten groups who owned shell companies and have made large deposits in the banks. The raids are being carried out in 187 places,” he said.
AIADMK spokesperson Prasanna Alagarsamy said that TTV Dinakaran was expecting the raids a week earlier. “The raids happened a day after Dhinakaran met Sasikala in Bengaluru jail and spoke against the demonetization,” alleged Prasanna.
Jaya TV also reported the searches by tax sleuths in its premises and at Jazz cinemas. As many as ten premises in Thanjavur, 13 in Coimbatore one in Pudukottai, four in Tiruchirappalli and one each in Chidambaram and Cuddalore, besides six in Namakkal, were among those searched, the official said. Apart from it, 13 premises were searched near Puducherry. the official said. All these were conducted by more than a dozen teams since this morning, the official said, adding, police security was provided during the searches.
The official said that almost all premises belonging to associates of Divakaran were raided in Mannargudi. The house of Krishna Priya, the daughter of Illavarasi, where Sasikala stayed during her parole, was also raided by Income Tax department.
At Mannargudi, the hometown of Sasikala-Dinkaran duo in Tiruvarur district, raids were conducted at the houses and office premises of Sasikala’s husband, M Natarajan, her relatives including Mahadevan, Venkatesan and Divakaran and a former councilor of Thanjavur. A group of 30 I-T officials conducted raids at 11 places in Thanjavur, and Tiruchirappalli districts from 7 am. In Coimbatore, I-T sleuths raided the house and business establishments of Arumugasamy, a sand merchant in the city, according to police sources.
The sleuths also carried out raids on the house of one Sajivan, who supplied wood and interiors to the Kodanadu bungalow in Kotagiri belonging to late Jayalalithaa, they said. Raids were also conducted at the house and wood workshop of Sajivan in Gudalur in Nilgiris district and three estates–Kodanadu, Curson, and Medanadu,
Dhinakaran said his house was not raided by the Income Tax but some of his properties due to political vendetta by the present AIADMK government. He alleged that the raids are part of the Centre’s tactics to get him and jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala out of the AIADMK party. “It’s been orchestrated by the Centre. But I will not bow down,” he said.
However, Income Tax department denied that the raids have anything to do with politics. “It is part of Operation Clean Money Drive which was launched in Tamil Nadu,” said a senior Income Tax official.”We had identified ten groups who owned shell companies and have made large deposits in the banks. The raids are being carried out in 187 places,” he said.
Some of the key places that were raided by the IT are office of Jaya TV, a place near the Poes Garden residence of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa where once JJ TV operated from, a house of Krishna Priya, the daughter of Ilavarasi located in Habibullah Road and several business houses and shell companies and the premises of aides close to Dhinakaran, jailed AIADMK leader Sasikala and her brother Divakaran. Jaya TV, started by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 1999, was a mouthpiece of the AIADMK but controlled by Dinakaran. Members of Sasikala’s family have been controlling the operations of the media house for many years now.
Meanwhile, former state transport minister Senthil Balaji, Perambur MLA P Vetrrivel, Ambattur MLA V Alexander and Theagaraya Nagar MLA P Kalairajan and other leaders owing allegiance to Dhinakaran were seen flocking at his residence. “We will evolve a strategy once the raids get over,” said a support of Dhinakaran. I-T sleuths go after the biggest fish.
A huge posse of police, led by Deputy Superintendent V Asokan, was deployed as I-T officials conducted raids on the premises of Sasikala’s close relatives in Mannargudi. Raids were conducted at 12 places, including the residences of Sasikala’s brother V Dhivakaran and his associates. The officials also raided the premises of the relative of Food Minister R Kamaraj and one of his supporters.
The officials came in a 14-car convoy from Tiruchy and entered Dhivakaran’s house situated at Sundarakkottai around 6 am. Simultaneously, raids were conducted on the art college owned by him nearby. Officials who searched the house of Dhivakaran took him to another house at Mannai Narayanasamy Nagar in Malayalam.
Searches were also conducted at the houses of his sister and Dhinakaran’s mother Vanithamani, Divakaruni’s friends Sujai and Selvam, former councilor S Rajupillai, Divakaruni’s assistant Vinayakam and staff of the college Anbarasi, Siddharthan, and Balamurugan. He was taken back to Sundarakkottai. The search continued until evening, and it was not known immediately whether any documents were seized. Addressing media, Dhivakaran alleged that the raid was politically motivated.
The officials also raided the house of Pon Vasukiram, district secretary of Amma Peravai and supporter of minister Kamaraj, and minister’s relative S Udhayakumar. Since S Kamaraj, TTV faction district secretary, was out of town, his house was not searched. However, officials waited there after informing Kamaraj. In Thanjavur, raids were carried out on seven premises, including Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan’s house.
A team of I-T officials from Madurai, Tirunelveli, and Thoothukudi searched Natarajan’s house at Arulananda Nagar. Though Natarajan was not present in the house, officials searched the premises in the presence of his relatives and servants. Officials also searched the residence of Sasikala’s nephews T V Mahadevan, who passed away recently, TV Thangamani, and Dr. S Venkatesh, who is Dhinakaran’s brother-in-law. Venkatesh was not present in the house, and the search was held in the presence of his relatives. The residence of Chinnaiah, Natarajan’s nephew, located at Melavasthachavadi was also searched.
Tamil Nadu had escaped the operation clean money drive, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to crackdown on unaccounted money piped into bank accounts post-demonetisation, as Income Tax officials were waiting for the stash money declaration window offered by the government to end in October. “We waited until October as the government had come up with a scheme, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY). Under the scheme, people who are likely to deposit black money need to pay 30 pc of the tax amount and also an excess of 33 pc as surcharge amount,” said a senior Income Tax official.
It is learned that under the PMGKY, only Rs 5,000 crore was disclosed by 21,000 people across the nation. Till now a total of Rs 2,451 crore has been collected in the drive. The official said that there was also a column under the scheme wherein individuals have to disclose how much cash they have deposited post-demonetization from November 8, 2016, to November 2017. Once the scheme ended, the operation was launched in Tamil Nadu, the official said.
Under operation clean money, the Income Tax department had appointed two data analytics firms to analyze the deposits in bank accounts before and after November 8 last year, the day the government decided to junk 86 percent of the currency in circulation. It is learned that there are about 5, 56,000 individual tax evaders identified under the drive across the nation. Faced with a locked house and the standard “do not know whereabouts of the owner” replies, I-T officials who arrived to search the house of Dr. K S Sivakumar at Rakja Colony in Cantonment in Tiruchy, decided to press locksmiths into service.
Dr. Sivakumar was the personal physician of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who knows about the details of her death and is married to Prabhavathi, daughter of Sasikala’s elder brother Sundaravadhanam. But Sivakumar’s friends and relatives, who came to the spot, objected to breaking open locks on other doors, leading to delay in searching.
Meanwhile, Dhinakaran loyalists led by Villupuram district north secretary Balasundaram and former Vanur MLA Ganabathy gathered in front of the farmhouse and raised slogans against both Central and State governments. They claimed the raid was an act of revenge. Nearly 20 sleuths land in Kodanad Estate.
Sleuths from the Income Tax department also swooped down on the sprawling Kodanad Estate in Kothagiri and searched its office. Under the scanner were people, who supplied furniture and extended favors to jailed VK Sasikala and her family, when former chief minister J Jayalalithaa was in power. Nearly 20 sleuths landed on the estate around 6 am in two cars and a van and carried out the search operation for over six hours. The inquiry with office-bearers and employees hinged on fund flow to the estate and their salaries.
Simultaneous search operations were carried out in the house of O Arumugasamy, a sand businessman and chairperson of Senthil Group of companies, at Racecourse in the city. They also raided Arumugasamy’s office in Senthil Towers on Avinashi Road. The I-T sleuths also paid Vijiyalakshmi Trust Office, owned by Arumugasamy, at Ram Nagar. According to sources, when J Jayalalithaa was in power, Arumugasamy became close with VK Sasikala and allegedly favored her by renovating the Kodanad Estate building.
I-T officials also searched the house of furniture showroom owner Sanjeevan at Gudalore and his Nilgiris showroom at RS Puram and Podanur in Coimbatore. According to sources in the AIADMK, Sanjeevan executed the interior works in the Kodanad Estate building after it came into the possession of J Jayalalithaa. “He is the only person from outside, who knows the entire geography of Kodanad Estate. He is the person always roped in to carry out repairs, no matter how minor,” sources added.
Dhinakaran targets Centre: Hitting out at the Centre, Dhinakaran said, “who can direct income tax raids, it is only the Central government…it is apparent that it is the Centre.” Dhinakaran is locked in a turf war with the faction led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam for control of the party. Without naming the BJP, he said: “we will not allow the party responsible for this (tax raids) in Tamil Nadu.” He said tax men were “sitting at the residence of my secretary Jana who has been for 13 years personal assistant to my wife (Anuradha) at Jaya TV.” “A conspiracy is on,” he said and added that it was to see that he and Chinnamma (Sasikala) “should not be in politics.” He said he and his family had been experiencing such things for over three decades and that they will deal with it legally and not be cowed down.
Hours after few Income Tax (I-T) officials raided the Chennai residence of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar; he said in his defense that the raid was politically motivated. “I am innocent. I was fully co-operating with I-T officials. I showed all my documents and they were unable to find anything. They were threatening me. My child wanted to go to the school, but they were not allowed. This is politically motivated. The I-T department is harassing me,” Baskar told the media. After the raids, Baskar’s supporters protested on the roads.
With Income Tax Department launching statewide raids on the premises of former CM J Jayalalithaa and jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, Bhoomiyarpalaym village near Auroville in the district also saw some action with a farmhouse belonging to TTV Dhinakaran coming under the scanner.
The day-long raid went on until late evening. A team led by Assistant Commissioner Sengutuvan came to the farmhouse around 8 am and was on the premises for 13 hours. Later, two officials came out and informed that only higher officials could talk about the raid and left the place.
Even as Income Tax officials were conducting searches on the premises of family members of V K Sasikala who is now in a Bengaluru prison, the DMK sounded cautious, while ally Congress described the action ‘politically motivated.’
Listing the searches made by IT department on earlier occasions on the premises of several persons, including health minister C Vijaya Basker, sand mining baron Shekar Reddy, Karur-based businessman Anbunathan, IAS officer Rama Mohana Rao and a relative of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Ramalingam, DMK working president M K Stalin wondered whether the searches had reached their logical conclusion. “What happened to those searches? What is the status? What action has been taken?” he asked adding there was no answer to these questions. He said his impression was that the present searches too would meet the fate of the earlier ones. He wanted the Union minister under whom IT department fell and the departmental authorities to give an explanation to the searches.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president S Thirunavukkarasar said the IT department action was nothing but ‘political vendetta.’ He said the searches were held with a ‘political motive to weaken a faction of AIADMK.’
Yes, anybody who knows the tricks of the trade can take the nation for an easy ride and take away as many resources as they can loot.
Like joint military exercises and joint cricket matches for 100s and 50s, there has been joint looting by the politicians and officials, mafias, others of the resources of the nation and the states.
Judiciary cannot intervene in the ongoing corrupt practices unless the government asks for that.
Most of the politicians and their parties are corrupt. DMK sounds cautious, Congress sees political motive in raids
The way the politicians, their kith and kin, and families, close associates loot the resources of the state gives an impression that India is being run by mafias. Sasikala and Dinakaran, others of the Mannargudi gang in Tamil Nadu and Thomas Chandy in Kerala are just the tip of the iceberg, and their networks are wide and deep.
Elections, popular mandate, etc. give the party leaders who get elected to assembly or parliament or even local bodies to make wealth and become rich. MLAs, MPs, ministers of states and federal government grow richer before the term. In fact, their salaries are just peanuts comparing to the huge amount of ready cash they make by bribery. In fact, politicians are in political business because they get a lot of money and wield power.
Obviously, the politicians openly bluff about serving the people.
And, pathetically, it is because of corruption by politicians that officials also take bribes as an unwritten law.
The IT raid has been going on only at the premises of relatives of Sasikala and Dinakaran and if the scope of raids is extended to other leaders of the ruling party, opposition party DMK, MLAs, MPs, and ministers even CM, many interesting figures would be revealed to the public to know what kind of representative they have in the assembly and parliament.
Will the IT make the raids even and cover more and more people and make the exercise a regular feature so that people think twice before swindling money from the nation or state?
People have to be taken into the confidence of the genuinity of the raids.
People are fed up with the corrupt politicians and officials. And want to see a new India whisk is genuinely free from corruption and with honest people- not the so-called nationalist or Hindutva people who also loot the nation’s resources like mines, etc. and demand bribes for any service to the people.
One wonders if India nation is being controlled by the vicious networks of frauds and mafias that operate in all walks of life.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has announced that the poll for the RK Nagar constituency in Chennai would now be held on December 21. The poll was necessitated due to the death of CM Jayalalithaa and postponed due to complaints of ‘votes for money.’ It was reported that Dinakaran, a candidate, had distributed currency notes for votes.