Another former AIADMK minister booked in DA case
Chennai: Officials of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) on Thursday held searches at 35 locations, including two in Bengaluru and six in Chennai, of former Tamil Nadu minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader KC Veeramani in connection with a disproportionate assets case.
From the raids, officials seized nine luxury cars including a Rolls Royce, 1.9 lakhs worth of cash in US dollars, 275 units of sand worth ₹30 lakhs, gold and diamond jewellery and five hard disks, the DVAC said in a statement.
Veeramani is the third former AIADMK minister, besides MR Vijayabaskar and SP Velumani, to come under the DVAC net after MK Stalin-led Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government came to power in May this year. Veeramani hasn’t spoken on the corruption charges levelled against him, but his supporters promptly gathered outside his house to protest the raids. His party also issued a statement, complaining that the raids were prompted by “political vendetta”.
A first information report (FIR) registered by the vigilance directorate on Wednesday said Veeramani was “involved in corrupt activities” and acquired assets disproportionate to his income by 654% between 2016 and 2021 when he was a minister of commercial taxes in the AIADMK government.
“Searches are ongoing in 28 places across the state and including four in Chennai,” a senior DVAC official said on the condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The two-time legislator won the 2011 and 20116 assembly elections from the Jolarpet constituency in Tirupathur district, 200 km north of Chennai. Veeramani, however, lost the seat to his DMK rival by a little less than 1,100 votes in the assembly elections held earlier this year.
Arappor Iyakkam, a non-profit that first filed a complaint against Veeramani, alleged that the AIADMK leader started indulging in corruption in 2011 when he first became a legislator and minister in the J Jayalalithaa government and oversaw departments of school education and Tamil culture apart from holding additional charge as health minister in his first term.
In the FIR, the DVAC said investigators decided to focus on his second term since he held charge of the sensitive commercial taxes department. During this period, the FIR said, his assets increased from ₹25.9 crore to ₹56.6 crore while his income was estimated to be ₹4.3 crore and expenses were pegged at ₹2.56 crore.
The FIR further said Veeramani acquired properties and pecuniary resources in his name and in the name of his mother, C Maniyamal.
The FIR, which accused him of criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act, said he was estimated to have acquired assets worth ₹28.7 crore, “which works out to be 654% more than his total income.”
The AIADMK has already formed an internal legal committee to help party leaders fight cases registered against them by the DMK government.
Former transport minister MR Vijayabhaskar was the first prominent AIADMK leader to be raided by the vigilance team in July this year. DVAC officials had then claimed to have seized ₹25.5 lakh in cash, sale deeds, and other documents.
In August, DVAC went after AIADMK heavyweight and former municipal administration minister SP Velumani, who is known to be close to former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
Last year, the DMK, while still in the opposition, submitted a list of corruption charges to outgoing Governor Banwarilal Purohit against half a dozen AIADMK ministers, and later in the run-up to the assembly elections, promised to establish a special court to try such graft cases.
“The DMK hasn’t been able to fulfil its election promises so they are foisting false cases against our leaders,” the AIADMK said in a statement. A DMK leader without wishing to be named said that it was their election promise to bring corrupt former leaders to book. “They have to pay for their actions now,” he said.