I-T seizes Rs. 152-crore worth unaccounted assets; Two Karnataka babus suspended

As the raids continue, the unaccounted income is expected to go up further over the next two days

I-T seizes Rs. 152-crore worth unaccounted assets; Two Karnataka babus suspended

As I-T sleuths are busy rounding up corrupt babus, they have seized Rs. 152 crore unaccounted income, including a huge stash of new notes, bullion, jewellery, and documents pertaining to property ownership, on the premises of two chief engineers of Karnataka PWD and contractors over the last three days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi even called up the I-T sleuths in Bengaluru and congratulated them for the successful seizure operation.

The two chief engineers - SC Jayachandra, Chief Project Officer of the State Highway Development Project, and TN Chikkarayappa, Managing Director of Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Ltd, were suspended following the operation.

Searches started in Bengaluru, and Erode and Chennai in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday and concluded on Friday night. A total of 18 locations in Bengaluru are under the I-T scanner.

“The unaccounted income is expected to go up further. We will get a rough estimate on the extent of income and properties by Monday,” sources told The Hindu.

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will seek details from the Income Tax Department on the disproportionate assets.

The Hindu news report quoted ACB Inspector General of Police MA Saleem as saying that they were keen to pursue cases against the two officials on the basis of information about unaccounted income coming from the I-T department since the money recovered from their premises could be more than their known sources of income.

Earlier, Jayachandra had run into trouble in 2008 when Lokayukta sleuths searched his premises on the charge of disproportionate income. The government is yet to give permission for prosecution.

Meanwhile, the search of premises of the two officials, contractor Ramalingam, Sibi Chakravarthy of Kannan Borewells and banker Umashankar continued for the third day on Friday. The amount of unaccounted cash and gold has gone up.

The I-T search, which officials say was in the offing for some time, comes when the state government finalised tenders for execution of road works worth about Rs. 3,500 crore under the State Highway Development Project (SHDP).

Of the over Rs. 6 crore currency seized, the department said nearly Rs. 5.7 crore was in new Rs. 2,000 currency. About Rs. 90 lakh is in the demonetised Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency. Sleuths have seized about seven kilos of bullion, suspected to have been purchased after demonetisation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency, nearly nine kilos of gold jewellery – together worth about Rs. 5 crore, an I-T department note said. Several high-end cars too have been seized.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has refuted media reports that the tainted officials were close to him. He reportedly told mediapersons: “I came to know about the Income Tax raid on the residences of a few officials through the media. Who told you (media) that they were close to me? Don’t spread gossips. The raid was conducted by officials of the Income Tax and they would not give any report to me. Let them take legal action against the officials. Those who are guilty will have to face the consequences.”