Benami assets of VK Sasikala attached

Chennai: The Income Tax Department recently attached benami properties worth an estimated Rs 1,600 crore belonging to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s jailed aided VK Sasikala. “The properties were attached under the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act,” an Income Tax Department official said.

According to sources, many of these properties were acquired post-demonetisation of the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes during November-December 2016.

At that time Jayalalithaa was in hospital with Sasikala by her side. “We suspect that a part of the demonetised currency were converted into other denomination notes through certain state agencies such as TASMAC, which is the sole vendor of liquor and the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation.

This was because government agencies were allowed to collect demonetised notes for a certain period,” an official claimed. The ownership of these properties remained in the names of benamis.

The nine properties were purchased in Chennai, Coimbatore and Puducherry. “We have intimated Sasikala about the attachment through the prison officials in Bengaluru,” he added.

Much of the transactions had come to light during a massive coordinated search operation called ‘Operation Clean Money’ launched by multiple teams of the Income Tax Department for over four days in 2017.