Tamil Nadu

DVAC searches 52 premises of former AIADMK Minister Velumani

S.P. Velumani. File   | Photo Credit: S. Siva Saravanan

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) police launched simultaneous searches on the premises of former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Minister S.P. Velumani and that of his associates at 52 places in Chennai, Coimbatore and other places early on Tuesday.

According to sources in the agency, the Special Investigation Cell registered a case against Mr. Velumani and 17 others, including KCP Engineers Private Ltd., on the basis on a complaint lodged by B. Gangadhar, Superintendent of Police, on the outcome of a preliminary inquiry conducted by the agency.

 

According to sources in the agency, investigators following specific inputs commenced the search at 35 places in Coimbatore, 15 in Chennai and one each in Dindigul and Kancheepuram districts.

Besides the office/residence of the former Minister, DVAC officials also swooped down on the premises of his close business associates, relatives and friends, the sources said.

During the day, the investigation agency said that the number of places where searches were on went up to 60 and no arrests were made as on Tuesday evening.



In a statement, AIADMK coordinators former Chief Minister Edapadi K. Palaniswami and former Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam alleged the searches as politically motivated. Claiming that the charges of corruption were baseless, they said the party would face it legally.

Considered an AIADMK bigwig in the western districts of Tamil Nadu and a powerful Minister in the 2016-21 regime of the party, Mr. Velumani faced allegations of corruption, which were investigated by the DVAC, police sources said.

In the First Information Report registered on Monday, the DVAC said that two complaints were received in 2018 from R.S. Bharathi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP, and V. Jayaraman, convener, ‘Arappor Iyakkam’. A preliminary inquiry was conducted and the report forwarded to the government and a copy submitted as status report to the Madras High Court.

 

It was alleged in the complaints that Mr. Velumani had extended large-scale favouritism by abusing his official position as the Minister for Municipal Administration in the matters of awarding ‘construction’ and ‘supply of goods services’ tender works in Greater Chennai and Coimbatore Municipal Corporations to his close associates, including his brother, their relatives and companies associated with them.

It was alleged that unknown officials of the two Municipal Corporations had “blatantly violated all rules of business” in allocation of tenders on the influence of the former Minister.

The DVAC said that when a writ petition came up for hearing, the Madras High Court directed that “the State should spare no efforts in getting to the bottom of the matter and proceed against those found to be responsible for the regularities” and to conduct investigation in the light of the Comptroller and Auditor General report of 2016 which highlighted injudicious awarding of tender is resulting in huge loss to the government in certain set of works executed by the greater Chennai Corporation during 2014-18.

Further investigation conducted by the agency revealed that between 2014 and 2018 Mr. Velumani had wilfully abused his official position in the award of the work tenders in connivance with unknown officials of the Greater Chennai and Coimbatore Municipal Corporations to the tune of ₹810 crore thereby causing undue favour to certain companies/firms.

While awarding these tenders, officials of the respective Municipal Corporations had blatantly violated the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act, 1998, Rule 31 of the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tender Rules, 2012, guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission etc.

Pointing to certain serious violations in the tender bidding, tender negotiation and execution of work and also the findings in the CAG report, the DVAC also gave, what it described the high trajectory growth of some companies that were favoured in the injudicious awards of tenders.

After a preliminary enquiry into allegations of irregularities in the awarding of contracts by the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Coimbatore Corporation, the DVAC had not found material to register a case against Mr. Velumani. The counsel for the former Minister had informed the Madras High Court in June this year that in January, 2020, the State government accepted the report of the DVAC investigation and dropped all proceedings against Mr. Velumani.

Meanwhile, the DVAC said in a statement on Tuesday that ₹13.08 lakh cash, Fixed Deposit receipts to the tune of ₹2 crore, a computer hard disk, company transaction papers and documents relating to the municipal corporations were among the material seized.


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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 4:55:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dvac-searches-52-premises-of-former-aiadmk-minister-velumani/article35828930.ece

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