ED files chargesheet in gutkha scam case, names ex-AIADMK MLA

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday filed a chargesheet in connection with its probe into the illegal gutkha business in Chennai against S.Vignesh, proprietor of Annamalai Industries, and his associates, including two Tamil Nadu police officers and former Tamil Nadu minister and ex-AIADMK MLA B.V. Ramana.

An ED official said that the agency has filed a chargesheet against Vignesh, his associates and their family members and others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED has also named seven public servants, including two officers from the Tamil Nadu police department, two officials of the food safety department, two from the commercial tax department (now state GST) and one official from the central excise department (now central GST).

The ED also named Ramana, who was an MLA between 2011 and 2016 and also served as the Commercial Tax Minister in the state government from December 2012 to November 2013.

The investigation in this case was initiated by the financial probe agency after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) lodged an FIR against the officials of Tamil Nadu government, public servants and others on the instructions of the Madras High Court.

The high court had ordered an investigation into all the aspects of the offence, which included illegal manufacturing, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutkha and other chewable tobacco products which were banned in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with effect from May 2013.

The official said that during investigation, it was revealed that the three associates – A.V. Madhava Rao, P.V. Srinivasa Rao and Tallam Uma Shankar Gupta – and others, who had associated themselves with illegal manufacturing, sale and distribution of gutkha products in Tamil Nadu, had effected a turnover of Rs 639.40 crore from May 2013 to June 2016 and the ill-gotten money derived out of the illegal business was invested in movable and immovable properties in Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.

“These assets were purchased in the name of family members or relatives and entities owned by them and their family members or relatives,” the official said.

He further said that the criminal activities included payment of bribes to the Central and state government officials as quid pro quo for allowing the illegal business of gutkha and other tobacco products in Tamil Nadu.

The ED had earlier attached movable and immovable properties acquired by means of illegal manufacturing and sale of gutkha amounting to Rs 246.10 crore under the PMLA.

The official said that the chargesheet has been filed against the accused with a prayer for rewarding punishment to the accused persons and confiscation of attached properties totalling to Rs 246.10 crore.

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