Tracking the probe on Sekhar Reddy's illegal money trail — Gold, cash and murky deals

Behind cash and gold seized in Chennai IT raids, lies a tale of many big contracts

Huge Haul: The cash seized by the Income Tax department. A total of Rs. 106 crore in cash, including Rs 10. crore in new notes and 127 kg gold, were seized.  

One hundred taxmen started their search operations on Thursday at eight different locations in Chennai connected with three men, to probe a suspected money laundering racket.

By end of day on Friday, the Income Tax department had seized Rs. 96.89 crore in demonetised notes, Rs. 9.63 crore in Rs. 2000 notes and gold weighing 127 kg worth Rs. 36.29 crore from the three men - J Sekhar Reddy, K Sreenivasulu and Prem.

As soon the news broke, social media was abuzz with questions on who the men were and how they accumulated so much legal tender when banks are unable to meet the demand. Enquiries provided some details on their business interests.

J. Sekhar Reddy, hailing from Thondanthulasi near Katpadi, is a businessman with interests in real estate, media, infrastructure, mining and trading. He runs JSR Infra Developers Pvt. Ltd (earlier called Vaibhav Infrastructure) which focuses on laying of new roads, widening and expansion of existing highways, irrigation work, desilting of dams, restoration of old dams, river bed desilting, river management work, construction of drains, bridges and flyovers, water supply, and sewerage and ancillary projects.

He started this firm in 2009, and made quick progress. The firm counts Highways Departments and Public Works Departments of Tamil Nadu as a major client. According to its website, it has handled road improvement projects in Chennai and Tambaram and flood protection work on the left bank of Kollidam (Coleroon) river in Chidambaram taluk of Cuddalore district besides road projects in Katpadi.

Currently, the firm is working on widening Madurai Ring Road from double lane to four lane and similar widening of East Coast Road, among others. While the former project is for the Tamil Nadu Road Infrastructure Development Corporation, the second is for Tamil Nadu Road Development Corporation Limited. The company is also working on two World Bank-funded projects. Mr. Sekhar also runs SRS Mining, and is a member of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Trust Board.

A real estate sector source in Chennai, who requested anonymity said, “Both Sekhar and Sreenivasalu have long time close ties and have several partnership firms. Both are close to some government officials.”

Sreenivasulu is the Executive Director of JSR Infra Developers Pvt. Ltd., and joined the firm early on. The Hindu found on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website, using his Director Identification Number, that he also held posts in several other firms including SRS Merchandise Pvt. Ltd., SRS Innovations Pvt. Ltd., and Umak Resource Communications Pvt. Ltd.

A search on the Ministry website for Sekhar showed that he also has more firms under him including Sri Balaji Tollways (Madurai) Pvt. Ltd., Vesta Realty Pvt. Ltd., V-Top Infratech Pvt. Ltd., among others.

At Vellore, Sekhar operates several sand quarries. A section of villagers of Thottalam where a sand quarry operated on the Palar riverbed were “persuaded” to give up their protest against sand mining. Recently, he entered the hotel business too, launching a chain of restaurants in the Fort City of which two have been opened.

Enquires about Prem revealed that he was an employee of the duo. A senior Income Tax official told The Hindu on Friday that the search was still in progress in 4 out of 8 premises. Specific details including modus-operandi would emerge after examination of the documents and other evidence detected.

(with Serena Josephine in Vellore)

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 10:31:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/Behind-cash-and-gold-seized-in-Chennai-IT-raids-lies-a-tale-of-many-big-contracts/article16786997.ece

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