Documents seized during Income Tax searches at a firm that supplies food items for the Tamil Nadu government’s noon meal scheme show kickbacks worth Rs 2,400 crore were paid to politicians, bureaucrats and their family members, The Hindu reported on Saturday.
The Income Tax department had seized the documents in July from the offices of the Tiruchengode-based Christy Friedgram Industry and its employees. The department’s investigation wing is inquiring why the payments were made. Preliminary inquiries have revealed that the bureaucrats were either in charge of placing orders or sanctioning bills related to the scheme.
Christy Friedgram Industry supplies pulses, palm oil and eggs for the Social Welfare department’s noon meal programme and other welfare schemes. The firm was blacklisted in Karnataka in 2014 after an inquiry by the Lokayukta.
“The documents that we have seized include the book of accounts for many years that show payments made to politicians, bureaucrats and others, mostly in code, over a period of time,” an unidentified investigating officer told the newspaper. “In a few cases, the names of the family members of bureaucrats who held key posts figured in the list of beneficiaries.” The officer said a few beneficiaries received crores of rupees through online bank transfers.
An unidentified official in the investigation wing said a few documents are on proposals regarding the postings of Indian Administrative Service officers. Incriminating documents were found at the home of an IAS officer, the official added. “Some of the files seized during the raids were classified documents of the Tamil Nadu government, which could not have leaked without the connivance of senior bureaucrats.”
Investigators accused the company of hiding sources of revenue in its tax returns and claimed that it submitted contradictory documents while seeking loans from a nationalised bank in Namakkal.
The investigation team has now started issuing summons to suspects and will soon write to the state government and central agencies, requesting that appropriate action be taken. Investigators said the firm has urged the Madras High Court for a stay order on the department’s move to issue summons based on the seized documents.