The raids on SPK Group, a road contractor in Tamil Nadu, have come as a shock to the ruling AIADMK.
The Income Tax department says that they have recovered Rs 163 crore of unaccounted cash and over 100 kg of gold bullion on the first day of raids.
What has made the AIADMK and in particular, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, nervous about the raids are the alleged links between SPK Group promoter Nagarajan Seyyadurai and his family.
Seyyadurai’s SPK Group has won over many highway contracts in the last few years, and in March 2018, he incorporated a new company called the SPKAndCo Expressway Private Limited. His partner in this venture is none other than businessman Subramaniam Palanisamy, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s son’s father in law.
Seyyadurai and Subramaniam Palanisamy have other business connections too. Both are directors in the Sri Balaji Tollways Madurai Private Limited. The company was incorporated in 2016 with Subramaniam Palanisamy as its director. In September 2017, Seyyadurai joined this company as a director.
The TN government’s Rs 200 crore contract for the four laning of the Madurai Ring Road, was awarded to Sri Balaji Toll Ways Private Limited in 2017. This is the same company that initially had J Sekar Reddy as one of its directors, but he resigned sometime in the recent past.
In a complaint lodged with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption in June 2018, the DMK had alleged that many highway contracts were being given to the Chief Minister’s family and benamis. Incidentally, the Chief Minister holds the Highways and Minor Ports portfolio.
“P.Subramaniam, (in-law of Edappadi Palanisamy), P.Nagarajan (benami of Palanisamy) and J.Sekar @ Sekar Reddy are the Directors of this firm. Subsequently after this tender was awarded, through G.O. Ms No. 82, Highways and Minor Ports (HS.1) Department, dated 16.05.2018, an additional 18.57 crores was sanctioned for this project,” the DMK’s complaint reads.
The DMK had also alleged that the six laning of the Vandalur-Walajabad road, assisted by the World Bank, was awarded to SPKAndCo Expressway owned by Nagarajan and Subramaniam Palanisamy.
A government order mentioning this contract could not be found on any TN government websites. But if the DMK’s allegation is true, the question of how a four-month-old company was given a government contract persists.
A source in the AIADMK told TNM that the OPS and EPS factions were nervous about what plans the BJP had for their future. “The moment Amit Shah said that TN government was the most corrupt, some sort of action against the Chief Minister was expected. With these raids, his family’s links will come under the radar. What we hear is that the BJP is unhappy with both leaders,” the AIADMK leader told TNM.