The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday said it has provisionally attached around 50 kg of gold ingots/bars worth over Rs 13,96,88,246 crore of businessman J Sekhar Reddy and his associates in connection with new-for-old currency notes scam.
The action has been taken under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), the ED said.
In a statement issued in Chennai, the ED said following demonetisation, the Income Tax Department searched various places belonging to Reddy, Managing Partner of SRS Mining, and seized about Rs 97 crore in old currency notes, Rs 34 crore in new currency notes and 177 kg of gold bars.
Following that, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered an FIR against Reddy and his associates for converting demonetised currencies into new currency notes in a fraudulent manner, the ED said, adding it had also initiated investigations under PMLA against Reddy and others.
According to the ED statement, Rs 10 crore in old currency, Rs 34 crore in new currency, 6.5 kg of gold bullion, and 30 kg of gold seized in its raids has already been attached provisionally.
During the searches, 49.480 kg of gold bars valued at Rs 13,96,88,246 were recovered and seized by the Income Tax officials from a flat belonging to SRS Mining.
Reddy has stated that cash seized by the Income Tax department belongs to his SRS mining Company and admitted that it was unaccounted money.
"However, he has not divulged the actual source of new currencies other than stating that it is from the sand mining business," the ED said.
According to ED, Reddy and his associates converted a part of such unaccounted monies into gold bars through M Premkumar, who used to receive money from K Srinivasulu, an associate of Reddy, for their purchase.
Between November 20 to December 7, 2016, Premkumar purchased about 80 kg gold, using cash provided by various persons on behalf of Srinivasulu.
The purchases were made without bills or vouchers.
According to ED, Srinivasulu has stated that he used to receive money from SRS Mining and used to use a part of the same for converting into gold bars through Premakumar as per the instructions of Reddy.
The ED said the two partners of SRS Mining - Ramachandran and Rethinam - had stated that they used to transport huge amounts of cash by road without any accompanying accounts and neither maintained any accounts against collections, expenses, etc. so as to conceal the illegal earnings from accounted income but had never sought to buy gold bars.
"However, they stated that they never instructed to purchase gold bars and this may be on the instructions of Sekhar Reddy only," the ED said.
With the attachment of these gold bars, the total attachments in the case has gone up to about Rs 68.5 crore.