Chennai: Income Tax officials say they have found Rs 1,430 crore in undeclared income in raids on Jaya TV and family members of jailed AIADMK party leader VK Sasikala including brother VK Divakaran. Authorities also say Rs 7 crore in cash, Rs 5 crore worth of gold and a huge collection of diamond jewellery the value of which is yet to be assessed have been recovered. Specialist diamond assessors have been summoned to evaluate the haul, they added.
- Tax officials conduct raids on 187 locations over five days across states
- Extent of unaccounted income could be much higher, officer tells NDTV
- Raids target rival faction of ruling AIADMK, channel critical of it
At the end of the five-day search, a senior officer told NDTV, "The extent of unaccounted income will definitely be much higher than Rs 1,430 crore. There's also evidence of huge amounts parked in several places across the country."
Officials also say they have identified several shell companies floated by the family members of Ms Sasikala, an aide of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who died last year. They've also found a huge number of incriminating documents which are yet to be studied in detail.
Over the last five days, income tax officials said they had raided 10 "assesse groups" at 187 locations across Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry and Delhi over suspected tax evasion. "Though the key target was the family that operates Jaya TV, the other nine groups we now believe all had some kind of monetary transaction with them. Respective officers will summon concerned individuals for investigation," a senior Income Tax department officer added.
On the day the raids began, officials had alleged that the Jaya TV group, linked to Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK party, had floated several shell companies and fudged accounts.
TTV Dhinakaran, who has been sidelined in the AIADMK following a dramatic year of political turmoil within the party since the death of Ms Jayalalithaa, had denied the allegations and called the raids politically motivated.
"What's the need for this mega raid deploying close to 2,000 people? Clearly whoever is attempting to save the AIADMK government is being targeted," he said.
Though Jaya TV has been the mouthpiece of the AIADMK for years, the channel turned a bitter critic of the E Palaniswami government after he joined hands with the rebel group led by O Panneerselvam and even adopted a resolution to take over its operations.
Eighteen legislators who support Ms Sasikala were recently disqualified by the Assembly Speaker for defying a whip. They could potentially bring down the EPS government if the court quashes the Speaker's order.
The Income Tax department however denies any political links and says the raids were part of an operation called "clean money drive".