After raiding the office of Jaya TV in Chennai and the residences and offices of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala's family members, the income tax department carried out searches at former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence in Chennai on Friday night.
Sasikala had been living at Jayalalithaa's residence before she was jailed. The IT sleuths are said to have received information that electronic storage devices were present at Poes Garden and that they were secretly being transferred to some other place. However, the search was limited to Sasikala's room and Jayalalithaa's trusted aide S Poongundran's office.
"We have not searched the entire Poes Garden premises. Our team went at 9 pm and only Poongundran's room, records room and other room used by Sasikala were searched," an IT official told the Press Trust of India. The official revealed that a laptop, a desktop computer and four pen drives had been seized.
Meanwhile, after reports o the IT raids broke, Sasikala's lawyers requested the officials to allow them to be present during the search, but their request was turned down. Numerous supporters of Sasikala also gathered at Poes Garden to protest the raid, after which heavy security was deployed in the premises.
Last night's raid comes just a few days after the IT department raided Tamil television channel Jaya TV, also controlled by Sasikala's family. About 10 IT officials are said to have entered the channel's office in Ekkatthuthangal around 6 am on November 9.
Speaking of the raids, the IT officials said that they were acting on a tip-off, which said that the channel had evaded taxes. "We have confirmed information about concealment of income and tax evasion. We have been monitoring the activities of the TV channel as well as its senior officials," an official of the department had told the Times of India.
Jaya TV is also suspected to have created shell companies, made dubious investments, and tweaked its accounts.
IT officials had also searched Sasikala's nephew Vivek Jayaraman residence in Chennai and Jazz Cinemas, which is also owned by her family. Overall, 180 locations in 4 states -- Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh – had reportedly been searched.
Post the raids, it was said that the IT department had unearthed over Rs 1,400 crore worth of unaccounted income and had also seized Rs 7.14 crore in cash and jewellery valued at Rs 5 crore. The officials also added that a substantial amount of diamond was seized and 16 bank accounts were also frozen.
"A lot of incriminating documents were found and prima facie we have detected undisclosed income of Rs 1,430 crore," an official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.