'Over 91% seized Vellore cash in `200 denomination; all sourced from one branch'
New Delhi: Over 91 per cent of Rs 11.53 crore seized by Income Tax Department in Tamil Nadu's Vellore Lok Sabha constituency was in the denomination of Rs 200 and sourced from one bank branch in the district to allegedly bribe voters, a report prepared by the department's sleuths revealed.
President Ram Nath Kovind Tuesday ordered rescinding the notification to hold election to the seat based on an Election Commission recommendation after the "black money", allegedly linked to DMK candidate Kathir Anand, was seized by the department on the night of March 29-30.
The department's Chennai wing had submitted a report of this incident to the poll panel with a strong recommendation to cancel the election in Vellore as "incriminating" amount of black money was being pumped into the constituency to "lure maximum number of the voters" ahead of the April 18 election.
The damning report accessed by PTI said that out of the total Rs 11.53 crore cash seized by the tax department, "only Rs 99 lakh cash was in the higher denomination of Rs 2000 and Rs 500, while 10.5 crore was in the smaller currency of Rs 200."
"The cash was shifted from Kingston College (Durai Murugan Educational Trust), Vellore, to a cement godown in the night between March 29-30 due to botched up operation by the state police and revenue authorities. The political functionaries obstructed I-T teams for a long time and meanwhile shifted the cash and other material out of the premises.
"Based on the leads found and meticulous surveillance, the cash was found to have been secreted in a cement godown belonging to a functionary of the same party. All the cash (seized) was found stuffed in cartons and gunny bags, neatly packed for distribution ward-wise with computer-printed labels on the packets," the tax department report said. The educational group mentioned in the report is linked to Anand's father Durai Murugan as he is a managing trustee of the institute and is also the sitting MLA of Vellore and the DMK treasurer, it said. The report has photographs of the seizures made and they were sent to CBDT and EC. They show that currency wads were neatly packed and bore numerical markings in blue and red ink, indicating that the packages were meant for ward-wise distribution.
The report also said that the taxmen used an "advanced currency-counting machine" and tabulated the entire cash bundles series-wise. They then sent the cash bundles to the RBI to ascertain the source bank branch of the currency notes.
A senior I-T official told the news agency that the "RBI found that the cash was sourced from a local Canara Bank branch cash chest."
The two cashiers who issued the banknotes were grilled by I-T department sleuths for long hours. It then came to light that their senior manager, based in the regional office, had ensured that this huge amount in lower denomination is supplied to the branch and further released to an alleged DMK-linked functionary who was not even an "income tax assessee."
"The senior manager exploited the banking system and got the local branch such a big quantity of Rs 200 notes that was further released to the DMK-linked functionary," the I-T department official said.
The IT department has summoned the senior manager and the DMK candidate, Anand, for questioning.
"An I-T probe found that this cash was to be distributed in installments to lure voters in Vellore constituency," the official said. The EC took the decision after the district police filed a complaint against Anand and two of his party's functionaries on the basis of a report from the I-T department on April 10.
Anand was charged under the Representation of the People Act for giving "wrong information" in his election affidavit filed along with his nomination papers, police have said. PTI