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Published On: Mon, Nov 13th, 2017

Income Tax stash with Sasikala clan, over Rs 1400 crore unearthed during raids

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shashikala_2017082319024040_650xCHENNAI :Income Tax sleuths have detected undisclosed income of Rs 1,430 crore in respect of ten assessee groups which included those linked to jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, her kin and their associates.Income Tax (I-T) department sleuths last Thursday carried out simultaneous multi-city raids on 187 premises including those linked to Sasikala and her nephew and deposed AIADMK general secretary TTV Dhinakaran and Tamil television channel Jaya TV over suspected tax evasion.

Jaya Harini, the house of ousted AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, was bustling with activity since Thursday morning as party cadre started gathering to show their solidarity. The house was one of the properties belonging to jailed leader VK Sasikala’s extended family, but was not touched by Income Tax officials even as searches were conducted at 187 places belonging to close aides and relatives of Dhinakaran and Sasikala
Dhinakaran, who emerged from his home, said his house was not searched by the Income Tax department, but some of his properties, including a farm house at Puducherry, were raided by officials due to ‘political vendetta’ by the present government. He claimed the raids were part of the Centre’s tactics to get him and Sasikala out of the AIADMK. “It’s been orchestrated by the Centre. But I will not bow down,” he said.
However, the department denied that the operations had anything to do with politics. “It is part of the Operation Clean Money Drive launched by the Prime Minister in March. We are implementing it in Tamil Nadu,” said a senior Income Tax official. The state had earlier escaped Operation Clean Money Drive, which was launched to crack down on unaccounted money deposited post-demonetisation, as Income Tax officials were waiting for the stash-money declaration window offered by the government to end in October.
“We had identified 10 groups that own shell companies and made large deposits in banks. The raids are being carried out in close to 190 places,” the official said.  Some of the key places searched on Thursday included the office of Jaya TV, a place near the Poes Garden residence of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa from where JJ TV once operated, a house of Krishna Priya, daughter of Ilavarasi, located on Habibullah Road and several business houses and shell companies, and the premises of aides close to Dhinakaran, Sasikala and her brother Dhivakaran. The Adyar residence of S Poongundran, who was one of Jayalalithaa’s most trusted aides, was also raided.

The official said almost all premises belonging to associates of Dhivakaran were searched in Mannargudi. Krishna Priya’s house, where Sasikala stayed during her parole, was also searched. Jaya TV, started by Jayalalithaa in 1999, was the official mouthpiece of the AIADMK. Members of Sasikala’s family have been controlling its operations for many years now. Sasikala’s nephew Vivek Jayaraman, 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 the Income Tax scanner as a shell company.

The places raided included the residence of M Natarajan, Sasikala`s husband, in Thanjavur; Kodanad Tea Estate belonging to Jayalalithaa, Jazz Cinemas, Midas Distilleries, Sharada Paper and Boards, Senthil Group of Companies, Nilgiri Furniture in Coimbatore, Jaya TV, Namadhu MGR and several other premises in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

A top tax investigation official in Chennai said that more than Rs 7 crore in cash and jewellery worth over Rs 5 crore were seized during the searches. As many as 15 bank lockers and diamond jewellery were kept under “prohibitory orders” under which access to them is denied, he added. “A lot of incriminating documents were found and prima facie we have detected undisclosed income of Rs 1,430 crore,” the official, who did not want to be named, told PTI.
In Delhi, a senior I-T official said undisclosed income of around Rs 1,500 crore was detected during the multi-city searches that were carried out mostly in Tamil Nadu.Stating that Rs 30 crore of undisclosed income was “detected already”, the Chennai-based official said a “lot more materials” are being looked into. The official said the undisclosed income was in respect of the ten assessee groups, which includes Jaya TV and Midas Distilleries that are reportedly linked to Sasikala.

Sasikala is serving a four-year jail term in a disproportionate assets case. Late Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa was also an accused in the case. The trial court in Bengaluru had convicted Sasikala along with Jayalalithaa, Sudhakaran and Elavarasi in the case for amassing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.
On February 14, Sasikala was convicted in the case by the apex court, dashing her ambition to become the Tamil Nadu CM.Consequently, she was not able to enter into electoral politics for a period of six years after serving the four-year jail term.
(With Agency inputs)

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