KOCHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED), Kochi unit, on Monday questioned former Tamil Nadu Minister and AIADMK leader C Vijayabaskar as part of a gold cheating case. Following the summons, Vijayabaskar turned up at the ED office in Kochi at around 10.30 am.
According to ED sources, the former Tamil Nadu health minister was called for interrogation following a cheating case registered by Kerala Police at Angamaly Police Station in 2016. The ED is probing the money laundering aspect connected to the cheating case. In 2016, a leading jewellery firm based in Kerala lodged a complaint that a woman named Sharmila, a native of Alappuzha, siphoned off gold worth Rs 2.5 crore. According to police, the woman who claimed she had links with political leaders in Tamil Nadu procured the gold on credit and later failed to clear the dues.
"We started a preliminary investigation to check if any money laundering activities were involved in the incident. The accused woman gave a statement that she did not cheat the jewellery firm. Instead, the gold she received was a commission for connecting influential persons with the jewellery firm. She alleged that she had brokered a large quantity of gold purchased by Vijayabaskar and the gold she received was a commission for it. The former minister was summoned to give a statement on the incident and to check whether he made a gold purchase," said an ED source.
"The woman claimed that her commission was one per cent of the gold purchased by the political leader. If so, Vijayabaskar is said to have bought gold worth Rs 250 crore. We are verifying these facts in the case. He is already facing multiple cases in Tamil Nadu. More investigation has to be conducted in this regard based on the statement given by Vijayabaskar, Sharmila and the jewellery firm," added the source.
Last month, Tamil Nadu's anti-corruption agency had registered a case related to the amassing of wealth disproportionate to known sources of income against Vijayabaskar. It is also reported that Vijayabaskar was under the lens of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Income Tax Department.