I-T raid on Sasikala firms: Tax evasion on income of ₹1,430 crore detected

Published on Nov 14 2017 - - India - -

Evaluation of documents still on, final figure may be different, say I-T sleuths

Ending their largest-ever search operation in Tamil Nadu, which lasted five days and covered the properties of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s former aide and jailed AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala and her extended family members, Income Tax officials on Monday said that until now, tax evasion on income of ₹1,430 crore had been detected.

“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,” said a senior I-T official.

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.

Besides the seizure of ₹7 crore in cash and jewels worth more than ₹5 crore, documents pertaining to 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 jewellery that were claimed to have been accounted for were kept under safe custody for evaluation,” a source said. I-T officials identified dozens of shell companies and specific teams were probing the source of funds to those companies in recent years.

‘Time-consuming’

“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,” a senior I-T official said.

He said the exercise of analysing the documents, valuing the properties, recording the statements of persons concerned and initiating action would be a time-consuming process.

“We have to examine the documents of movable and immovable assets and check how much of it has been brought to account,” he said. “We have also found diamond jewellery but could not ascertain their value. We will get a certified valuer to ascertain the value of the diamonds,” the official said. “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.

Sources said all business transactions of Mr. Vivek, including the dealings of Jazz Cinemas, of which he is in-charge, are being scrutinised. 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 Mr. Vivek are being questioned about past transactions.

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