The Enforcement Directorate on Monday attached assets worth Rs 246 crore in connection with the gutka scam in Tamil Nadu. The attached property includes 174 immovable items worth Rs 243.80 crore and shares and vehicles worth Rs 2.29 crore, the agency said.
The Enforcement Directorate said the attached properties are spread across Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh, PTI reported quoting from a statement. A provisional order for attachment of assets has been issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The Enforcement Directorate said the accused AV Madhava Rao, PV Srinivasa Rao, Tallam Uma Shankar Gupta and others allegedly undertook illegal manufacture, sale and distribution of gutka products in the state with a turnover of Rs 639.40 crore between June 2013 to June 2016.
The three accused are promoters of Jayam Industries, which manufactured the MDM brand of gutka.
The ED statement said the accused invested money in movable and immovable properties in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh. It also said bribes were allegedly paid to central and state government officials for allowing the illegal manufacture and sale of gutka and other tobacco products which are banned in Tamil Nadu.
The agency said the accused had purchased shares in a textile park in Guntur and vehicles to distribute gutka products. “The major investments in real estate made by the accused were in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh apart from investments in Salem, Puducherry and Chennai,” the ED statement said.
The agency had filed a criminal complaint in the case based on a FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation on the direction of the Madras High Court.
The alleged scam came to light in July 8, 2016 when Income tax officials conducted searches on the properties of a pan masala and gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu for evading taxes to the tune of Rs 250 crore. During the raid, officials seized an accounts book containing the names of those who were allegedly paid off by gutka manufacturers. Health Minister C Vijayabaskar was among those mentioned in the diary.
Documents showed that Rs 40 crore was paid to Vijayabaskar and senior officials. Senior police officers and bureaucrats, including the state’s Director General of Police TK Rajendran, former Chennai Police Commissioner S George, several officials in the department of Health and Food Safety and local councillors were named in connection with the scam.