Three builders booked for Rs 50 crore graft in Chennai

FIR claims they greased palms of govt officials, elected representatives for project at Binny Mills
Image used for illustrative purposes only
Image used for illustrative purposes only

CHENNAI: A day after booking three builders for allegedly paying bribes to the tune of Rs 50 crore to government officials and elected representatives with regard to a construction project at Binny Mills in Perambur, the DVAC sleuths on Thursday conducted a search at offices and residences of people connected to the case.

The FIR names Landmark Housing Projects Managing Director T Udhayakumar, and KLP Projects Private Limited directors Sunil Khetpalia and Maneesh Parmar, apart from stating that other unidentified officials in various government departments could also be involved in the graft. The DVAC FIR was based on a complaint lodged by Rajiv Naidu, who had also initiated legal proceedings against Landmark Housing Projects before the Madras High Court in 2017.

Naidu had approached the court after Udhayakumar filed a sworn statement with the Income Tax (I-T) department, disclosing that between 2015 and 2017, he paid over Rs 50 crore in cash to various public servants, including MPs, MLAs, council members, and officials from various departments, for their assistance in carrying out the construction of a multi-storey apartment building at Binny Mills.

The petitioner requested an investigation by the DVAC based on the sworn statement, and the Madras High Court ordered the DVAC to conduct an initial investigation.

Preliminary inquiries were carried out in 2019 and a copy of Udayakumar’s statement which was recorded by the assistant director of I-T (investigation), was provided to the officials on March 23, 2020; a day prior to imposition of the country-wide COVID-19 lockdown.

Udhayakumar said they had bought 14.16 acres of land from Binny Limited and then greased the palm of officials to remove encroachments near to the plot.

According to the FIR, AIADMK MP Balaganga was paid Rs 23 lakh, DMK cadre Jawahar Rs 33 lakh, another DMK cadre Rs 10 lakh, former MLA Neelakandan Rs 40 lakh, and MP Venkatesan Rs 20 lakh, another parliamentarian, who was referred by a mayor, Rs 16.7 crore, and former councillor Saroja Rs 2 lakh.

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