I-T Department Attaches Properties Worth Rs 300 Crore Of Late Jayalalithaa's Aide Sasikala Natarajan

I-T Department Attaches Properties Worth Rs 300 Crore Of Late Jayalalithaa's Aide Sasikala Natarajan(ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • The Benami Protection Unit of the Income Tax Department yesterday (2 September) put up an attachment notice at one of the properties where construction of a bungalow is on now, ahead of Sasikala’s release from prison soon.

The Income Tax Department has swung into action on the properties accumulated through shell companies by V K Sasikala Natarajan, who virtually called the shots in the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

Sasikala, who was a trusted aide of Jayalalithaa until the latter’s death in December 2016, is currently serving a four-year prison term at the Parappana Agrahara Central jail in Bengaluru following her conviction by the Supreme Court in a case of having assets disproportionate to her known source of income.

Between December 2016 and early February 2017, Sasikala was the sole power of centre in the AIADMK and was almost elected the State chief minister before the Supreme Court ruling stalled it.

After her imprisonment, she was expelled from the AIADMK, whose cadre had chosen her as the party chief after Jayalalithaa.

In their course of investigating the disproportionate assets, the Income Tax Department found out that she had amassed properties worth Rs 300 crore in and around Chennai.

One of such properties bought was opposite the residence of the late Jayalalithaa at Poes Garden in one of the poshest localities in the heart of Chennai.

The Benami Protection Unit of the Income Tax Department yesterday (2 September) put up an attachment notice at the premises, where construction of a bungalow is on now, ahead of Sasikala’s release from prison soon.

The Income Tax Department made its move this week to attach the properties provisionally. It has served a notice to Sasikala at the prison besides sub-registrars under whose jurisdiction the properties were registered.

The Income Tax Department has said that Sasikala had floated shell companies for her benami transactions involving real estate business, purchase of properties, a cinema multiplex and an alcohol distillery.

The department said that one of the benami companies floated by Sasikala was a firm - Sri Hari Chandana Estates Private Limited, set up in March 1995. The firm, registered at Banjara Hills in Telangana State’s capital Hyderabad, carried out business in real estate.

The shell firm bought over 60 properties, having landholdings of about 200 acres, valued at Rs 300 crore in early 2000s. Two persons - Kaliyaperumal and Sivakumar, represented the company and they were found to have had links with other Sasikala benami firms such as Jazz Cinemas Pvt Ltd and Midas Golden Distilleries.

What convinced the Income Tax Department’s was that the shell firm did not have any business nor showed any income to make the purchases. Investigations by it then led to unearthing the fact that it was Sasikala’s benami.

Already, the Income Tax Department had unearthed benami transactions of Sasikala involving nearly 10 properties valued at over Rs 1,500 crore after demonetisation in November 2016.

These properties have been attached and currently are under the proceedings of the Benami Property Transactions Act at the Adjudicating Authority, New Delhi.

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