December 23rd, 2016
The Income-Tax department officials conducted a major raid at the office of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P Rama Rao’s residence in Chennai and several other locations on Wednesday for suspected tax evasion by his son Vivek and other relatives.
According to IT officials, Rs 30 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes, five kg of gold and documents related to undisclosed assets worth about Rs 5 crore were recovered after conducting raids at 13 places.
I-T officials with the help of paramilitary forces carried out the search. In order to ensure secrecy, no state police personnel were involved.
The raids began at 5.30 am at Rao’s residence in Anna Nagar, Chennai. Later, raids were carried out at the houses of Rao’s son in Thiruvanmiyur and daughter in Manapakkam. The I-T officials also searched Rao’s office for almost five hours. Multiple cellphones, SIM cards and several documents were seized from the office. All the raids were completed by night.
After raiding Vivek’s house and his in-laws’ residence in Chittoor, a bulk of cash and gold was confiscated. I-T officials reported this raid was part of a bigger raid that is linked to the confiscation of Rs 132 crore cash in including Rs 34 crore in new notes, and 177 kg gold from three businessmen — J. Shekhar Reddy, Srinivasalu and Prem Sekhar Reddy earlier this month. Mining baron Reddy has alleged business links with Vivek.
“Reddy had direct access to both Rao and a senior politician of the ruling party. We couldn’t raid the politician as we don’t have enough evidence to link him to the illegal transactions,” said another senior official to Indian Express.
Reddy was arrested by CBI on Wednesday. Both Reddy and Rao would be booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
CBI launched another probe on RBI-Chennai and two leading private banks that are suspected to have helped Reddy to exchange notes within the fortnight after Demonetisation was announced.
Oppositions in the state, particularly DMK has sought an immediate dismissal of Rao. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has dubbed the raid as the political motive of the Centre. In a series of tweets, she said, “Earlier the principal secretary of @ArvindKejriwal was raided and harassed. Now I read TN chief secretary also raided… Why don’t they raid Amit Shah and others who are collecting money.”
Earlier the Principal Secretary of @ArvindKejriwal was raided and harassed. Now i read Chief Secretary TN also raided 1/6
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) December 21, 2016
P Rama Rao became the chief secretary in June this year. He has been an officer with strong political connections. He provided immense support to Sasikala Natarajan for her to come in the forefront after the death of CM Jayalalithaa.