A day after election officials seized three trucks carrying Rs. 570 crore near Tirupur, the Income Tax Department on Sunday asked the district administration to move the vehicles back to Coimbatore chest of the State Bank of India (SBI) to execute search warrants.
“The Income Tax department has given a letter to district collector (Tirupur) to transfer the vehicle to Coimbatore in the bank chest to execute search warrants,” Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer Rajesh Lakhoni said.
The development comes even as SBI had claimed the money to be its, saying it was being transferred from Coimbatore to Andhra Pradesh to address cash shortage in that state and as per RBI instructions.
The vehicles were detained by election department officials after chasing the trucks, which were accompanied by three cars, after they did not stop at the check post at Chengapalli in Tirupur District in the early hours of Saturday.
A high-level committee, headed by Expenditure Observer, carried out a detailed inquiry with the SBI officials for more than 12 hours, with regard to despatch of the money, without valid documents and proper security.
The bank had staked claim for the money, saying that it was transferred from Coimbatore main branch to its branches in Vishakhapatnam, where there was shortage of cash.
Moreover, this was done according to RBI guidelines, SBI had said.
“To address a temporary cash shortage in Andhra Pradesh, the RBI has authorised transfer of Rs. 570 crore from our currency chest in Coimbatore main branch to our special currency administration branch in Visakhapatnam.
“As per RBI instructions, our Coimbatore main branch released the treasure to the authorised SBI personnel, duly escorted by a team of Andhra police. But the convoy carrying the cash was stopped by the EC officials enroute and brought to Tiruppur collectorate for further scrutiny,” SBI had said in a statement last night, while terming the Election Commission’s action as “erroneous”.
The release of the containers, which were under tight security since Saturday evening, was delayed, pending orders from top Election Commission officials, an official from election department here said.