CHENNAI: Income Tax investigation sleuths in Chennai have unearthed a money laundering racket and seized Rs 120 crore in old currencies, new currencies and gold bars from eight premises including a star hotel room.
“The premises belong to industrialist Shekhar Reddy, his associate Srinivasa Reddy and their agents including one Prem,” said an IT official.
Of the total seizure, Rs 80 crore was in old demonetised currencies+ and Rs 10 crore in newly introduced Rs 2,000 denomination. The teams also seized 100kg gold bars worth Rs 30 crore, said the official. The sleuths got a tip-off about Prem exchanging old currencies for gold bars, and following his trail they stumbled upon the Reddy associates. They seized Rs 6 crore in newly introduced Rs 2,000 denomination from the house of Shekhar Reddy in T Nagar.
Based on the information provided by him, officials raided a room in a prominent star hotel in Teynampet and seized 70kg gold bars from there. Reddys had booked the room in the name of one of their agents
Following the leads generated during the raids, I-T officials also made enquiries at a few jewellery shops in the city. “We are investigating how the gang managed to get Rs 10 crore in newly introduced Rs 2,000 denomination when there is restriction on money withdrawal from bank accounts and people are standing in queues for hours to withdraw money from banks and ATMs,” said the official. Apparently, some banks officials are also involved in the racket, said sources.
Shekhar Reddy is well connected to many bigwigs and was involved in sand quarrying across the state in the last few years. Sand quarrying is a major money spinner for contractors, who make a margin of Rs 5,000-6,000 per load. It is estimated that more than 50,000 loads of river sand is quarried in the state daily
He is also a member of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Trust. Reddy had visited Apollo Hospital on October 12 to hand over Tirupati ‘prasadam’ to former chief minister J Jayalalithaa+ who was admitted there then.