CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry into the alleged seizure of Rs 570 crore cash in three tanker lorries in Tirupur district by a team of Election Commission in the run up to Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
The matter has come to CBI on the orders of Madras High Court which had directed the agency to register a preliminary enquiry, CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said in New Delhi on Monday.
The Madras High Court had directed the agency to register a preliminary enquiry on a petition of DMK MP T K S Elangovan despite opposition from the central agency which was reluctant to probe the case.
It is alleged that around midnight of May 13, 2016, Election Commission Surveillance team stationed at Tirupur chased down and seized three tanker lorries with Rs 570 crore in cash which were escorted by three Innova, the sources said.
The seizure made three days before May 16, 2016 when Tamil Nadu was scheduled to go for polling had sent ripples in the administration as DMK alleged it was hawala money, they said.
In his petition, Elangovan had alleged when the surveillance team of EC questioned the three drivers and the persons who accompanied the said lorries in Innova cars, they were not in a position to give proper answers or documents for transportation of huge sum of Rs 570 crore.
It was found that the documents submitted by these persons did not have the vehicle numbers of the container lorries, he had alleged.
The persons who accompanied the vehicles in three Innova cars, claimed that they were security officers from Andhra Pradesh, but there were not in uniform, he claimed.
The DMK leader claimed out of three seized vehicles, one lorry bearing Reg No AP-13-X-5204 is not the number registered for the lorry, but rather it is the number of an Innova car belonging to one Jaffer Ahmed Khan.
Elangovan in his petition alleged the vehicle number AP-13 X 8650 belongs to one Kaja Mohammed and the vehicle AP-13-X-5203 belongs to one Salim Mohammed.
The RC book for vehicles, have the same photograph of one person making it clear that they are nothing but fake, he claimed.
"After lapse of 18 hours, suddenly some letters were created in the name of the State Bank of India and the Income Tax Department made a claim before the Chief Electoral Officer ... requesting for transport of the three containers to the State Bank of India, Treasury Branch, Coimbatore," Justice R Subbiah pointed out from the petition while ordering handing over the enquiry to CBI.
"Accordingly, three trucks were transported to SBI Treasury Branch, Coimbatore. About 195 sealed boxes were found in three containers with currencies of different denominations and the currencies contained the seal of Axis Bank. SBI claims that currencies were transported from its Chest and the money belongs to them," Elangovan has claimed.
He had said in the petition while SBI claims its their money and there was a direction from RBI, there was no such instruction from the Bankers' Bank.
"As per the RBI Guidelines, whenever huge moneys are to be transported between the chest of the same or different banks within the state or inter-state, the same has to be done only through Rail and has to be escorted by the local police.
However, no such steps have been taken in the instant case," he had alleged.
Huge sums of money in five container lorries, left from Nilgiris District, crossed Tamil Nadu and proceeded to Andhra Pradesh. While so, seizure of such money involving three container lorries can only be treated as Hawala transactions and it is probably from crime proceeds, he alleged.
Elangovan had claimed the high-level bank officials have conspired together and created forged documents with fake authorisation from RBI, Chennai in order to transport the huge sum of Hawala money and they are not only punishable for the offences under the Indian Penal code, but also for the offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act.