Months after the Income Tax (I-T) Department carried out raids on Christy Group, the firm that had a monopoly on supplying eggs to the Tamil Nadu governmentâ€™s noon-meal programme, a new report points to possible corruption and collusion between senior politicians and bureaucrats and the group. The report, published by The Hindu, says that the I-T Department has discovered a cache of documents from the properties of the Christy Group that detail "payment of kickbacks" worth Rs 2,400 crores.
These were reportedly paid by Christy Group to politicians and bureaucrats, in addition to their family members. And several of these bureaucrats, whose names have been found in the documents, are in charge of placing orders for the noon-meal scheme in the state.
Following the raids in July this year, the Tamil Nadu government faced a backlash from Minister of State for Finance and Shipping and senior BJP leader Pon Radhakrishnan, who alleged a Rs 5,000 crore scam in the procurement of eggs for schools by the state government.
The companyâ€™s bid for the following year's egg supply was rejected, with the government deciding to procure egg, required for the mid-day meal schemes in schools, directly from poultry farmers.
Money trail in papers expose kickbacks
According to the report, the papers seized during the income tax raids in the offices of Christy Group reveal records of payments made to politicians, bureaucrats and their family members. A top investigator also told The Hindu that the money involved works out to around Rs 2,400 crore and that a few crore rupees were transferred to some beneficiaries, through online bank transactions. Important, confidential documents about proposals for posting IAS officers were also recovered.
The I-T department had conducted raids in the offices belonging to the Christy group claiming that the group had evaded taxes and suppressed their income while filing the I-T returns.
Blacklisted in Karnataka
Firms of Christy group have been blacklisted from applying for government contracts in Karnataka. Many shell companies, which were associated with Christy group, are on the radar of the regulatory authorities and their bank accounts have been frozen. A case, initiated by the Lok Ayukta, is also pending before the Supreme Court. The I-T Department began issuing summons to suspects after an offence was prima facie established, although the reason why the firm paid kickbacks is not clear yet.