This Article is From Feb 08, 2017

VK Sasikala And Her Businesses: A Recipe For Conflict Of Interest

VK Sasikala has been named the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu by her party, the AIADMK.

New Delhi: As VK Sasikala is set to take over as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, an NDTV investigation has found that the long-time companion of the late J Jayalalithaa remains embroiled in a web of conflicts of interest and dubious financial links.

Both Ms Sasikala and Jayalalithaa were convicted of corruption charges. They were later acquitted, but the Supreme Court is expected to pronounce verdict on the acquittal within a week.  
Despite the shadow of this taint, Sasikala continued to expand her business interests, using, as we found, companies embroiled in that corruption case.  

As recently in January 2015, she became the majority owner of a company called Jazz Cinemas Pvt Ltd. She presently owns shareholding worth Rs 9.9 crore in the company, regulatory filings accessed by NDTV show.

Soon afterwards, Jazz Cinemas, which was earlier controlled by her relatives, took control of a multiplex - Luxe Multiplex - owned by Satyam Cinemas.

But the biggest infusion of approximately Rs 6 crore into Jazz has come from a company called Nammudu MGR, the AIADMK's party mouthpiece.

The trial court, while convicting Jayalalithaa and Sasikala, had held that the influx of funds into Nammudu MGR were fraudulent.

That is not all. In 2015, Ms Sasikala became a 48 per cent owner, via Jazz Cinemas, of another family firm, Midas distilleries.  

Midas is one of the biggest suppliers of alcohol to TASMAC, the Tamil Nadu government's liquor distribution firm, making this a clear conflict of interest.

The other 50 per cent is controlled by Sasikala's relatives.

In 2015, the turnover of Midas was as high as Rs 1,800 crore.

Ms Sasikala is also the director for life of another firm, Sri Jaya Financials Private Limited. This has all the hallmarks of a shell company, which shows zero revenue, yet it has allotted shares of a whopping Rs 12 crore. Yet again, its biggest investors are Jaya Publications and Nammudu MGR, both, as we mentioned, have found to have fraudulent sources of funds.

An AIADMK spokesperson when contacted by NDTV accepted that Ms Sasikala does indeed have these investments, but that she is not chief minister yet. When she does officially take over that post, he said she will have to divest herself of these investments.

He also denied that the sources of funding were fraudulent, saying that the court is yet to pronounce final verdict on her guilt.