Trouble mounts for former ADMK Minister SP Velumani as the sequel of the raids conducted by Tamil Nadu's Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC). Following the searches at around 60 places across Tamil Nadu, the state's anti-corruption watchdog has now frozen the bank account and lockers of the former minister.
The action has come two days after storming into his residences in Chennai and Coimbatore and conducted searches in connection to corruption and irregularities of allotting government contracts while he was serving as the Minister of Municipal Administration in the previous ADMK regime. On Tuesday, dozens of DVAC sleuths had stormed into the residences of Velumani and the searches took place at around 60 places with a major concentration in Chennai and Coimbatore. The authorities had raided the residences of some of the corporation officials and the properties that belong to the close associates of Velumani.
Searches on Tuesday had lasted for 12 hours and DVAC had filed an FIR against the former minister and 17 others in connection to the irregularities and graft case. Velumani, after the demise of J Jayalalithaa, had become one of the inevitable faces in ADMK and strengthened his stronghold in the western region. Being close to former Chief Minister and sitting Opposition leader Edappadi Palaniswami, Velumani's elevation in politics was rapid and rose to be one of the decision-makers of the party. The raids against Velumani had come weeks after a similar scale of searches were conducted at the residences of former ADMK Minister MR Vijayabaskar, who served as the Minister of Transport in the previous government.
While Velumani was a prime target for the anti-corruption sleuths, the authorities had also conducted searches at the residences of contractors who had taken projects worth several crores of rupees in Chennai and Coimbatore Corporations. The FIR had named Velumani as Accused No 1 and it has shockingly revealed Velumani's empire. According to the FIR, the Greater Chennai Corporation and the Coimbatore Corporation had allotted tenders worth Rs 811 crore to companies closely associated with Velumani, when he was the minister of the Municipal Administration, from 2014 to 2018.
The authorities had also found that there were several violations that happened in the tenders under the direct watch and influence of SP Velumani. The authorities had also found that the companies close to Velumani had attained a growth at a skyrocketing pace while he was serving as the minister in the ADMK government. The former minister was also questioned by the authorities in the MLA's hostel in Chennai in the midst of conducting the raids and after the raids, the sleuths had recovered documents for further investigation.
The authorities had recovered a cash of Rs 13.08 lakh, land documents, financial transaction papers, documents of Rs 2 crore fixed deposit, documents concerning the corporations, and hard disks. The authorities had begun works to compile the evidence against the former minister while the searches had continued for the second straight day on Wednesday at the properties of his close associates including KCP Engineers, which, as per the DVAC, had observed close ties with Velumani's family. Two days after conducting the raids, DVAC had given a big blow to Velumani as his bank account and bank lockers have on Thursday frozen by the authorities in connection to the corruption case.
According to our sources, the DVAC had written to the respective banks directing them to freeze the account and lockers of SP Velumani and the DVAC authorities have been reviewing the recovered documents and his assets and it has been expected that the former minister would be summoned for an investigation into the matter. Meanwhile, Velumani had on Wednesday taken a flight from Chennai to Tuticorin to offer prayers in a temple in the southern district and later, returned to the capital on the same day. On the other hand, the Coimbatore police had filed a case against ten ADMK MLAs and several leaders for violating the Covid-19 protocols by gathering before Velumani's residence in Kuniamuthur in the district to protest against the raids.