Amid political slugfest, I-T department seizes crores in raid in Bengaluru

Over ₹40 crore said to be seized from the contractor, who is the office-bearer of multiple contractors’ associations that made ‘40% commission’ allegation against Karnataka’s previous BJP government

October 13, 2023 10:45 am | Updated 11:11 pm IST - Bengaluru

Cash found during Income Tax searches on the properties linked to contractor R. Ambikapathy in Bengaluru on October 13, 2023. Photo: Special Arrangement

Cash found during Income Tax searches on the properties linked to contractor R. Ambikapathy in Bengaluru on October 13, 2023. Photo: Special Arrangement

Income Tax sleuths raided the properties linked to a prominent contractor in the city in the early hours of Friday and recovered cash, speculated to be over ₹40 crore.

The contractor, R. Ambikapathy, is the office-bearer of multiple contractors’ associations in Karnataka that had made the “40% commission” allegation against the previous BJP regime.

He was also one of the contractors arrested following a criminal defamation case filed by the former Minister, Munirathna, over corruption allegations and later released. Houses of several other contractors are also learnt to have been searched.

The raids have led to a political slugfest between the ruling Congress and the BJP and the Janata Dal (Secular). Even as Deputy Chief Minister D. K. Shivakumar has termed the raids “politically motivated”, the BJP and JD (S) have alleged that the recovery of cash from the contractor, in the run-up to the elections in five States, indicated it was “commission” from contractors meant to “fund the polls.”

Cash recovered from under the bed

While speculations were rife that the recovery was to the tune of over ₹40 crore, I-T sleuths were tight-lipped and there was no independent confirmation of the amount seized.

However, sources said the money was stashed in over 20 cardboard boxes and kept under a bed in a flat at Sultanpalya where Pradeep, a close relative of Mr. Ambikapathy, lived. The flat was raided in the wee hours of Friday, as an alleged attempt to shift the money was under way. 

Given the large sum of cash recovered, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has begun a preliminary inquiry into the case and will likely join the probe by registering a case, sources said.

Whose money is it?

Mr. Ambikapathy had not been taking big contracts for almost 10 years now, due to his health issues, multiple contractors said.

“He was not doing work to the tune that could get him large liquid cash, which has made us suspicious. It needs to be probed as to whose money it was,” a senior contractor said. This has added fuel to speculations and allegations by the Opposition.

Mr. Ambikapathy’s wife is a former councillor from the Janata Dal (S). The couple is closely related to former MLA for Pulikeshi Nagar, Akhanda Srinivasamurthy. While several of the couple’s relatives were also being raided, Mr. Srinivasamurthy was not covered, the sources said. 

Also read: In Karnataka, benign corruption and bigger enemies

The contractor is a relative of R. Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy (centre), former MLA of Pulikeshinagar in Bengaluru.

The contractor is a relative of R. Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy (centre), former MLA of Pulikeshinagar in Bengaluru.

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