Income tax raid: Officials find cash, gold, diamonds in graveyard
On Friday, Income Tax officials who had been searching retail giants Saravana Stores and realty firms Lotus Group and GSquare premises in Chennai and Coimbatore for more than a week came across a massive find. Based on leads, officials dug up some graveyards, and unearthed unaccounted cash, documents, gold, and diamonds worth hundreds of crores. Here are the details.
On January 29, I-T officials commenced searches across 70 locations linked to Saravana Stores, Lotus Group, and GSquare. However, Saravana owner Yogarathinam Pondurai and his associate Ramajayam, owner of Lotus Group and GSquare, got tipped off about the searches. After receiving tips, it's believed that Pondurai and Ramajayam loaded valuables and documents in an SUV, and instructed the driver to keep driving across Chennai.
It's believed that people inside the police department or the Income Tax Department informed Pondurai and Ramajayam about the raids. However, I-T officials got wind of it after questioning several people, and the vehicle was then intercepted. Although not much could be recovered from the vehicle, officials got information that bags of valuables and documents had been buried in graveyards or dumped in buildings.
Armed with this information, officials then hit the places where the valuables were stored. They ended up finding Rs. 25cr in unaccounted cash, 12kg of gold, and 626 carats of diamonds. Documents unearthed also revealed Rs. 433cr worth of unaccounted income belonging to Saravana Stores, GSquare, and Lotus Group - Rs. 289cr belonged to Saravana, while Rs. 149cr belonged to GSquare and Lotus Group.
During the course of the nine-day investigation, it was also found that Saravana Stores had rigged the accounting software in several of its outlets to conceal its income. A company called Giri Technologies provided Saravana with the software that showed Rs. 10cr for every Rs. 20cr in sales. 120 teams comprising 800 officials took part in the nine-day operation against the three firms.