“Cases will be slapped on all of them in due course”

The IT search on three film producers and an actor by the Directorate General of Income Tax (Investigation) on Thursday led to the seizure of unaccounted cash of Rs. 70 lakh and some property documents.

About 100 IT personnel carried out simultaneous search at 29 places that included business establishments and residences of film producers — R.B. Choudary, Gnanavel Raja, A.M. Rathnam and actor Santhanam in Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Salem, Tirunelveli and a guesthouse in Hyderabad. In Chennai, the officials conducted searches at Mr. Santhanam’s house in Teynampet, Mr. Rathnam’s residence in Valasaravakkam and Hyderabad guesthouse, Mr. Choudary’s office and house on North Usman Road and Mr. Gnanavel Raja’s residence in Vadapalani. Tier-II cities were included in the list as some of them had branches in these places and were dealing in real estate transactions.

“All the four persons have accumulated wealth disproportionate to the known sources of income and have not paid the taxes. I personally visited all the places and have sufficient evidence to prove that they have evaded taxes. Cases will be slapped on all of them in due course. Jewellery and property documents have been seized and kept under restraint for scrutiny,” said the investigating officer.

The timing of searches on well-known film producers has cast a spell of doom in Kollywood as it happened a few days prior to Deepavali.

It was a mixed day for Mr. Rathnam as his film ‘Aarambam’ starring Ajit was declared a success, but the IT search came as a dampener, said those involved in the film industry.

However, an IT official said: “We cannot help it, as the search was conducted based on specific information that unaccounted money was being used for film production.” While admitting that the search might not yield big returns, the official said it would take a while for them to compute actual tax evasion.

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