The Income Tax Department said on Tuesday it has seized “benami assets” worth Rs 1,600 crore of former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary VK Sasikala, PTI reported. She was an aide to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa.

Sasikala is serving a four-year jail sentence in a corruption case and is currently lodged at Parappana Agrahara jail in Bengaluru.

Tax officials identified nine properties, located in Puducherry, Coimabatore and Chennai, that were procured after when Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes were demonetised in November 2016. The assets were bought using nearly Rs 1,500 crore of demonetised notes under fake identities, unidentified tax officials said.

The properties included two malls, a paper mill, a sugar factory and a beach resort, among others, reported The New Indian Express.

The Initiating Officer of Benami Prohibition Unit under the Income Tax Department in Chennai issued a provisional order of attachment against the AIADMK leader. The order, for 90 days, was issued under Section 24(3) of the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, and then sent to the sub-registrars and registrar of companies companies concerned, according to The Hindu.

Officials also suspect the assets were purchased in either cash or memorandum of understanding between executing parties.

In 2017, Operation Clean Money was initiated as tax officials set out to find Sasikala’s “benami assets” at 37 locations in Puducherry, Coimbatore, and Chennai. They uncovered “incriminating documents” from 150 other sites.

About 1,800 officials were working on the case and Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence in Chennai was also searched. Sasikala was questioned in prison in December 2018.

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