HYDERABAD: Marathon raids by the IT Department at the residence and properties of TDP leader CM Ramesh came to an end on Sunday morning.
The Rajya Sabha member in a press conference claimed that he was being targeted for taking on the BJP in Parliament for “deceiving the people of Andhra Pradesh”. Teams headed by deputy directors T Madan and B Srinivas Rao conducted the searches at 25 different locations at Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, Bengaluru and Delhi, including the offices of Rithwik Projects Private Limited(RPPL), of which Ramesh is the executive director.
During the three-day-long search, officials scrutinised documents related to business transactions of RPPL and quizzed employees of the firm about its investments and projects.
Sources said several “suspicious-looking” sub-contracts were being verified as anomalies had been found in the purchase of steel and other materials. I-T sleuths also reportedly found no “way bills” in several instances and a number of contracts shown in books have not taken place. Similarly, cheques were issued to sub-contractors and cash withdrawn. “We are still verifying documents seized during the searches. If needed, we will seek an explanation regarding the anomalies,” a source in the department said.
I-T officials are also looking into the allegation that RPPL secured several contracts after N Chandrababu Naidu came to power. Ramesh is a close confidant of the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister.
What was seized?
Sleuths seized documents related to RPPL’s business transactions and a hard disk from the firm’s office at Banjara Hills. Rs 44,900 was seized from the residence of Ramesh’s brother-in-law. RPPL has interests in construction, infrastructure development and management projects. It has completed projects in various sectors including irrigation, and solar power.
TDP Rajya Sabha member CM Ramesh, on whose properties Income Tax raids were conducted for three days since Friday, has decided to take legal action against tax officials and those behind them.
Speaking to media persons after the end of the I-T raids on his properties in Hyderabad on Sunday, Ramesh termed the raids “politically motivated” and accused the tax officials of searching his house with an ‘illegal’ search warrant.
“They had search warrant against my wife also, stating she is a director in Ritwik Agro Limited, while the fact is that she is neither a director nor a stakeholder of the company. Moreover, the I-T department officials have indirectly threatened the employees of my firms for going against the ruling BJP. I have the recording of such remarks made by I-T department deputy director Madan,” the TDP leader said.
Ramesh claimed that the IT raids conducted at his properties were carried out with the intention of maligning him as he had questioned the Centre in Parliament. They were actually a ploy to threaten leaders fighting against the Centre. Describing the behaviour of some of the tax officials involved in the search operations as “unprofessional”, Ramesh said he would lodge complaints against them with the Central Vigilance Commission and Vigilance Wing of the I-T department.
“As a member of Public Accounts Committee, I have requested the PAC chairman to hold a meeting in Hyderabad. During the meeting, I will reveal the real purpose of the I-T raids conducted on my properties,” he said and added he would expose the BJP’s “politically motivated” I-T raids at the national level.
The TDP MP said since Friday, raids were conducted at 25 places including his houses, companies owned by his family and relatives and also on the houses of his friends, though they were no way related in any manner.
“In my house, they found Rs 3.53 lakh from 11 people of which 2 lakh are offerings to temples. They found bank accounts and passbooks of my family members and myself. From Rithwik, they found Rs 73,000 from 300 members,” he said showing the inquest reports.
Maintaining that he and his firms have been paying taxes for more than two decades, the MP maintained he had paid `200 as taxes in the last four years. “We file returns regularly. In fact, Rs 28 crore is due to us from I-T department itself,” he said.
Refuting allegations that Rithwik projects has got over Rs 2,000 crore worth contracts on nomination basis, the TDP leader asked how can it be possible when the government does not have any power to give contracts on nomination basis beyond Rs 5 lakh. “Rithwik projects has been working for the last 20 years. What about people like Mithun Reddy, who got single contracts valued at Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 5,000 crore,” he demanded to know.
Reiterating that he has nothing to hide, Ramesh said I-T Raids were dragged for three days to malign his image. “Such raids on my properties were not the first time. Even a month ago, GST raids were conducted. Nothing was found. I came before media as these raids were politically motivated with an objective to create hurdles in the development of the State and tarnish the image of the TDP,” he said and dared if YSRC chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy would be open to such raids.