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IT raids on Sasikala clan, associates, businesses enters third day

Chennai, Nov 11 (AZINS) The massive hunt for unaccounted wealth at premises of jailed AIADMK leader V.K. Sasikala's kin, their business associates and their organisations by tax officials entered its third day, a senior tax official said on Saturday.

Sasikala, who is undergoing her sentence after being convicted in a corruption case along with couple of her relatives, was a close confidante of Tamil Nadu's late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and was living with her for several decades.

For the third consecutive day on Saturday, Income Tax (IT) officials continued their raids at several premises.

"Sizeable volume of cash and documents have been seized at the searched premises. The search operation is still on.

"The volume and value of cash and documents seized would be known only after they are totalled after completing the entire operation," the IT official, who did not want to be identified, told IANS.

The official declined to comment on the reports about seizure of a good quantity of gold from one of the searched premises.

Reports said gold and valuables have been found in unexpected places in some premises under search.

The IT official also stressed that the raids have nothing to do with the first anniversary of demonetisation.

He said the department waited for the individuals and companies to file their tax returns for the year, and based on the filing and the data with the IT department, the search was carried out.

The searches are aimed at detecting tax evasion.

After analysis of the documents seized and clarifications obtained, tax demand would be raised and if the party pays the tax amount, including the penalty, the case would be closed depending on the other issues connected with the evasion, an official told IANS.

The searches were conducted in connection with unexplained routing of cash post-demonetisation through shell companies allegedly connected to Sasikala and her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran.

The IT department will look at the routing of funds within India whereas other agencies will look into the routing of money outside India, the official said.

According to him, the nature of this search operation "is different" and it is not just searching the premises and seizing unaccounted cash.

"We have information about shell companies and the search is in connection with their operations," he said.

Whether the bank accounts of the searched persons, companies would be "frozen to detect suspect transactions and other actions", would be taken only after collating the data from the seized papers.

On Thursday, a team of around 1,800 IT officials knocked at the doors of 187 premises-residences, offices and farmhouses -- to carry out one of their biggest searches on Sasikala's kin and associates.

The places raided included the residence of M. Natarajan, Sasikala's husband, in Thanjavur; Kodanad Tea Estate belonging to Jayalalithaa; Jazz Cinemas, Midas Distilleries, Sharada Paper and Boards, Senthil Group of Companies, Nilgiri Furniture in Coimbatore, Jaya TV, Namadhu MGR and several other premises in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.

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