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CBI seizes 16 more imported cars in TN

Chennai/New Delhi, Mar 22, 2013, DHNS: 1:38 IST
M K Stalin

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday seized 16 more imported cars in a case related to alleged violations in the import of luxury vehicles, continuing its search and seizure operations in Tamil Nadu.

Sources confirmed that the CBI conducted raids on the premises owned by BCCI chief Srinivasan and others.

This is a follow-up to the action initiated by the CBI on Thursday in Chennai when it first searched the house of DMK treasurer M K Stalin, in connection with a high-end special utility vehicle (SUV)’, allegedly purchased by Stalin’s son and film actor Udayanidhi Stalin.

The CBI had conducted searches in 18 locations on Thursday including at the farm house of former Union minister M K Alagiri in suburban Injambakkam, as part of their intensive operations in connection with a complaint that about 33 vehicles had been imported in Tamil Nadu. It is not yet clear whether the CBI found any imported car in Alagiri’s farm-house premises also.

Of these 33 vehicles of various luxury car models from abroad, the CBI said on Thursday that 17 vehicles were seized, including one from the residence of Raja Shankar, a friend of Stalin. Another 16 vehicles were seized on Friday, the CBI said in a statement, but gave no details.

The search and seizure operations had kicked up a massive political row, as it came a day after the DMK ministers had resigned from the UPA Cabinet over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. Stalin himself was quite furious on Thursday, saying that they would meet the situation “legally”.

The CBI had registered a case against an importer of these foreign cars over a period of few years and a senior officer of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), who had allegedly colluded in the violation of “import provisions”, thereby causing a huge loss of Rs 48 crore to the Central exchequer.

While the CBI case registered is under various sections of the IPC, including under 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), and under two provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the complaint being investigated is against one Alex Joseph of Kerala, who had been a car dealer and allegedly importing luxury cars, falsely declaring them as cars being brought back by Indians abroad for “personal use” to evade customs duty.

Some of these luxury cars were later sold “in violation of import provisions” to political and business VVIPs in Tamil Nadu. One of those cars happens to be in the name of Udayanidhi Stalin. Some reports suggested that 11 of the cars seized on Friday by the CBI were from the premises of a top cement industrialist of Chennai, but no confirmation was available from CBI till late Friday night.

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