Tamil Nadu

Sasikala wrote letter from prison on purchase of properties with demonetised notes: I-T dept

The communication was supposedly addressed to her relative Vivek Jayaraman

The Income Tax department has based its claim of V.K. Sasikala, a close aide of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, having purchased several properties using ₹1,674.50 crore in demonetised notes, not just on documents and statements of witnesses, but also on a ‘letter’ purportedly written by her.

Also read: How Sasikala bought properties with demonetised currency notes worth over ₹1,600 crore

According to the I-T sleuths, a search at the residence of Vivek Jayaraman, son of Sasikala’s sister-in-law Ilavarasi, as part of a larger raid in November 2017, led to the recovery of a loose sheet. Penned in Tamil, the sheet supposedly contained details of the approximate amount paid towards the acquisition of various assets using the illegal tender in 2016.

The Centre had demonetised the old ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes on November 8, 2016 but had permitted the holders of such currency notes to deposit them into their bank accounts before December 30, 2016. This window was reportedly used by many businesspeople to sell their high-value properties at attractive prices and deposit the money by faking their business transactions.

When the I-T officials confronted Mr. Jayaraman with the loose sheet, he was said to have told them that it was inside a sealed cover, which an anonymous person had handed over to the security guard at his residence about two months ago. The security guard, in turn, had given the note in the sealed cover to him, and that was how he ended up possessing it, Mr. Jayaraman claimed.

Asked to name the security guard who gave the cover to him, Mr. Jayaraman had said: “Two security persons are working in my residence (in Chennai). I don’t exactly remember who gave it to me.” Further, in response to another question on the date and day on which it was handed over to him by the guard, he had said: “I don’t remember now.”

The tax sleuths went on to ask: “What did you do with that letter?” to which he had reportedly replied: “I kept this letter with me. I wanted to discuss with Smt. Sasikala about the letter, but that did not happen. There were other issues to be worried [about].” However, subsequent inquiries revealed that the handwriting in the letter belonged to Sasikala and that she had written it around September 2017.

The letter was suspected to have been written from the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru, where she had been lodged since February 2017 after being convicted and sentenced to four years of rigorous imprisonment in a disproportionate assets case. In his statement to the I-T department, Sasikala’s legal adviser S. Senthil confirmed her handwriting in the letter.

Advocate’s claim

The advocate told the sleuths that the letter was written by Sasikala to apprise Mr. Jayaraman of the properties purchased using demonetised currency notes and to obtain further details from a note which she had supposedly dictated to him (Mr. Senthil) at the Apollo Hospitals just days before the death of Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016. “Shri Vivek called me to his residence at the end of September 2017, showed me this letter and told me to hand over the cover which was handed over to me by madam V.K. Sasikala (in December 2016). Further, he informed me that madam V.K. Sasikala was likely to come out on emergency parole in the first week of October 2017. He said that if I wanted to, I could hand over the said cover to him, or to madam V.K. Sasikala when she comes out on emergency parole. As elaborated earlier, I handed over the said cover to Madam V.K. Sasikala on October 8, 2017 when I met her personally,” he said.

After extracting the sworn statements obtained from Mr. Jayaraman and Mr. Senthil apart from others, the Income Tax department, in a notice to Sasikala, said: “Thus, the fact that during demonetisation period you have paid cash in OHD (old high denominations) to acquire various assets across Tamil Nadu has been established by various levels of evidence.”

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:26:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sasikala-wrote-letter-from-prison-on-purchase-of-properties-with-demonetised-notes-i-t-dept/article30428160.ece

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