Even by the enterprising standards of the textile town of Tiruppur and neighbouring Coimbatore, the unearthing of US treasury papers worth $5 billion from a local businessman has income-tax sleuths surprised.
"Five bills, each worth $1 billion, were among the seizures made," a source said, adding no further details could be divulged now because the investigators were looking at the authenticity of the documents.
Sources said the businessman, identified as Ramalingam, also a stockbroker, was raided over the past two days.
The bonds have been kept in a locker with the I-T department in Chennai. Ramalingam has been asked to appear before I-T officials on Friday.
It is believed that the businessman has been a frequent flier to Singapore, Hong Kong and the US, and in touch with NRIs. He is being questioned at his palatial bungalow in Dharmapuram taluka.
An investigator said it was the NRIs who gave him the money to invest here in India. I-T officials focused on him after he deposited more than Rs. 3,000 crore to make a bid for a crude refinery to be set up in Cuddalore.
A private foreign bank in which he made the deposit tipped off the financial investigation wing. That led to the raids on his premises in Dharmapuram, Coimbatore and Chennai.
An Indian citizen is not allowed to hold foreign currency assets more than $200,000 but the holdings have to be overseas.
"The matter is under investigation I do not want to comment further. But the bonds are in my name and they are current," TM Ramalingam said.