Sasikala gave ₹237 crore in demonetised notes as loan to govt. contractor: I-T dept.
The deal was to return the money in new currency notes within a year or pay interest of 6%
V.K. Sasikala, a close aide of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, advanced a loan of ₹237 crore in illegal tender to a government contractor. The Hindu has accessed documents proving this, along with other documents showing she had purchased properties worth ₹1,674.50 crore using demonetised currency notes.
According to I-T sleuths, a search conducted on the premises of AIADMK organ ‘Namadhu MGR’, brought out by Jaya Publications, on November 9, 2017, led to the seizure of a loose sheet of paper containing handwritten notes of payments made to various persons.
On inquiry, the firm’s manager Balaji claimed that the sheet belonged to Sasikala’s close relative V.S. Sivakumar.
He also said that Mr. Sivakumar was the director of Harichandana Estate at T. Nagar in Chennai and that the latter used to visit the Namadhu MGR office at Ekkattuthangal frequently and check the accounts.
Subsequent probe revealed that the first entry in the loose sheet pertained to a commission of ₹7.5 crore paid for having facilitated transfer of ₹237 crore in demonetised notes.
In a sworn statement made to the I-T department, Mr. Sivakumar reportedly conceded that the note was written by him and explained the entire transaction in detail. He claimed that Sasikala asked him to meet her at Apollo Hospitals, where Jayalalithaa was being treated, after demonetisation was announced by the Centre on November 8, 2016.
Then, she instructed him to hold discussions with T.S. Kumarasamy of Christy Friedgram Industry of Tiruchengode, a company that supplies groceries for the noon meal scheme, implemented in government and aided schools in the State, for converting the demonetised currency notes worth ₹240 crore into new currency notes in the denomination of ₹2,000.
As per her instructions, the modalities were discussed and it was agreed that Mr. Kumarasamy should return ₹240 crore within a year in new currency notes or pay interest at the rate of six % per annum. However, the deal could be finalised only close to December 31, 2016, the last date for individuals and private firms to deposit demonetised notes in their bank accounts.
On December 28, 2016, Mr. Sivakumar was given the key to a building owned by Cottage Field Resorts Private Limited at Vannier Street at T. Nagar in Chennai and was asked to transfer the money stacked over there in several cartons. He handed over ₹101 crore on December 29, 2016 and another ₹136 crore on December 30, 2016 to representatives of Mr. Kumarasamy.
Though the deal was to transfer ₹ 240 crore, Mr. Kumarasamy claimed, only ₹237 crore got transferred and therefore both the parties agreed that it would be sufficient if he returns the latter amount in new currency notes within a year or pay interest thereafter.
Since Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016, the transfer was ordered solely by Sasikala, Mr. Sivakumar stated. Armed with these two statements, the I-T sleuths raided the premises of Christy Friedgram Industries on July 5, 2018 and obtained a sworn statement from Tirupathy, the brother-in-law of Mr. Kumarasamy, on July 7, 2018 and he too reportedly conceded that he facilitated the transfer of the old demonetised currency notes to Kumarasamy in Tiruchengode.
He told the officials of having received a phone call from Mr. Kumarasamy to collect the money from Mr. Sivakumar and transport it to Tiruchengode safely and confidentially. Thereafter, he received another call from Mr. Sivakumar asking him to arrange for “two tempo 407 vehicles” and meet him at Teynampet at 12 am on December 28.
“However, I told him that I can’t make arrangement of vehicles here in Chennai and rather I would make an arrangement from Tiruchengode due to the importance of the confidentiality (sic). Since, there was no other option, he agreed. Then, I called my brother Shri Valleeswaran alias Thangam who is in Tiruchengode and asked him to send two vehicles immediately with confidential drivers.
“Accordingly, he sent two TATA-407 vehicles, which reached Chennai only by around 5.30 am. “As per the instructions of V.S. Sivakumar, we parked the vans near the SIET college at Teynampet in Chennai. One by one the hard board boxes were loaded in the vans and moved to Tiruchengode.” He claimed they escorted the loaded vehicles till the outskirts of Chennai.
The I-T department had issued a notice to Sasikala on October 15 this year and asked why a total of ₹ 1,911.50 crore should not be declared as her undisclosed income.
Apart from this, the sleuths found that several crores of rupees in black money had been converted into white by publishing advertisements in four special publications brought out by Jaya Publications during the birth anniversaries of former Chief Ministers C.N. Annadurai, M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa and also for AIADMK’s anniversary every year.
Though those advertisements had been issued in the names of AIADMK party functionaries, most of them had denied having issued them.
Further, the employees of Jaya Publications disclosed the entire modus operandi adopted by the firm.
“From the above facts, it is clear that you have routed your own unaccounted money as advertisement revenue,” the notice read.