Raids on Sasikala, Jaya TV unearth Rs1,430 cr 'black' money

Income tax officials in Tamil Nadu conducting search operations on various properties of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's jailed aide V K Sasikala have detected tax evasion on income of Rs1,430 crore.

This followa five days of searches in multiple cities. The Income Tax Department said it has detected undisclosed income of Rs1,430 crore in respect of 10 assessee groups related to Jaya TV, which included those linked to jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, her kin and their associates, officials 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 scrutinising the documents that our team found during the five-day search operation at 187 locations,'' a senior I-T official told The Hindu.

I-T officials carried out simultaneous multi-city raids on 187 premises last week, 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 (See: I-T sleuths swoop down on Jaya TV, Sasikala family members).

The searches at some premises continued for days.

A top tax official in Chennai said that more than Rs7 crore in cash and jewellery worth over Rs5 crore were seized during the searches. As many as 15 bank lockers and diamond jewellery had been put 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 Rs1,430 crore," an official who did not want to be named told PTI.

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.

''No one was questioned today. Vivek and certain other family members came only to sign the papers. The AIADMK's Karnataka unit leader Pugalendhi sought time to appear before us in response to our summons,'' the official told The Hindu.

In Delhi, a senior I-T official said undisclosed income of around Rs1,500 crore was detected during the multi-city searches that were carried out mostly in Tamil Nadu.

Stating that Rs30 crore of undisclosed income was "detected already", the Chennai-based official said a "lot more materials" are being looked into.

To a question on the nature of undisclosed income, he said this relates to unexplained cash introduced for acquiring several businesses. The issue of shell companies was a separate matter, he said, but did not elaborate.

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.

A report from Udhagamandalam said I-T officials are continuing their searches for the fifth day in the Green Tea Estate in Nilgiri district. A team consisting of three members is reportedly verifying the documents with regard to the Kodanadu Estate and also the 670-acre Green Teas estate in Curzon, said to be purchased by late chief minister Jayalalithaa and her aide V K Sasikala some five years ago.

Jayalalithaa used to stay twice a year in the Kodanadu Bungalow, documents of which were allegedly in the custody of Dhinakaran or some of his relatives after her death.

The I-T Department will now start the process of summoning the persons concerned to get their statements on the assets seized or detected.

Also, tax officials are yet to assess the value of immovable properties identified and the valuables in 15 lockers that are yet to be opened.

The exercise involves analysing the documents, valuing the properties, recording the statements of persons concerned and initiating action will take more time, officials said.                 

According to reports, besides diamond jewellery, six Rolex watches were found in a women's hostel belonging to Sasikala's brother Dhivaharan.