Ex-TN Minister’s house searched by anti-corruption bureau (Ld)

Officials of Tamil Nadu’s anti-corruption bureau, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), on Tuesday began their search operations at former AIADMK Minister S.P. Velumani’s residence in Coimbatore.

It is also learnt that searches are being carried out by DVAC officials in the premises of persons who are closely associated with Velumani.

Velumani was the Minister for Local Administration in the AIADMK government led by former Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and was said to be instrumental in the party winning a majority of the seats in the Coimbatore and Western belt in the Assembly polls held in April.

The Tamil Nadu government recently told the Madras High Court that it has decided to reopen and probe the complaint against Velumani which was closed earlier when the AIADMK was in power.

The High Court had granted eight weeks time to the state government to probe and file its affidavit.

The state government had told the Court that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has concurred with the complaint of non-governmental organisation (NGO) Arappor Iyakkam.

On Monday, the DVAC had registered an FIR against 17 persons/companies including Velumani, his associates and also against unnamed officials.

The FIR was registered on complaints lodged by DMK MP R.S. Bharathi and Arappor Iyakkam’s Convenor V. Jayaraman in 2018.

The two complainants had alleged that Velumani had extended large scale favouritism by abusing his official position as the Minister for Municipal Administration, a public servant in the matters of awarding aconstruction’ and aSupply of Goods/services’ tender works in Greater Chennai and Coimbatore Municipal corporations to his close associates including his brother, their relatives and their associated companies.

The FIR also cited the High Court’s direction that “the state should spare no efforts in getting to the bottom of the matter and proceed against those found to be responsible for the irregularities” and to conduct further investigation in the light of the CAG report.

The DVAC said in the FIR that its probe revealed, cognisable offence warranting registration of a criminal case.

From 2014 to 2018 when Velumani was the Minister for Municipal Administration, a total worth of tenders allotted to companies closely associated with him were about Rs. 464.02 crore in Greater Chennai Corporation and about Rs 346.81 crore in Coimbatore Municipal Corporation.

The officials of these two bodies violated the provisions of Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act and other rules while awarding the tenders as per the directions of Velumani.

According to the FIR, tenders were bid in collusion and accused companies/firms/propriety colluded among themselves and submitted their online Bids using the same Standard Internet Protocol (IP-IV) Address, on same date and one after the other, which implies, all the persons operated from same computer, establishing their collusion against the existing Rules.