Ex-AIADMK minister booked by DVAC in graft case

Former AIADMK minister Velumani booked by DVAC for abusing official position

The FIR lists Velumani, Anbarasan, and 15 others, including individuals and companies, as accused

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

AIADMK’s Coimbatore strongman S P Velumani, considered the eyes and ears of former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, on Tuesday, came under the radar of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) which registered a case against him and conducted searches at over 60 premises belonging to him and his relatives. 

The First Information Report (FIR) registered by the DVAC accuses Velumani, who ensured that the AIADMK-BJP alliance won all 10 assembly seats at stake in Coimbatore district despite facing a resurgent DMK, of indulging in “large-scale favouritism” by abusing his official position in awarding contracts to his close associates, including his elder brother P Anbarasan. 

The FIR lists Velumani, Anbarasan, and 15 others, including individuals and companies, and unnamed officials of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and Coimbatore City Corporation (CCC) as accused. The FIR says Velumani allotted tenders worth Rs 464.02 crores from GCC and Rs 346.81 crores from CCC between 2014 and 2018 to his relatives by “misusing” his official powers.

The DVAC launched reinvestigation into the complaints against Velumani after the AIADMK regime closed the case. The Madras High Court had asked the state to spare no effort getting to the bottom of the matter and proceeding against those involved in irregularities. 

The raids which began on Tuesday morning at 60 places related to Velumani, Anbarasan and others was wrapped up at around 7 pm. Sources said DVAC sleuths also questioned Velumani who was at the MLA’s hostel in Chennai. 

“During the search proceedings, cash of Rs 13,08,500, documents related to land registration, transaction documents of business firms, fixed deposits to the tune of Rs 2 crores, official records of Corporation, electronic hard discs, and other incriminating documents were seized,” DVAC said in a statement.

Even as the raids were underway, DVAC chief K Kandaswamy met Chief Minister M K Stalin and is understood to have briefed about the raids – so far two former AIADMK ministers have been raided. AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam and joint coordinator Palaniswami condemned the raids against Velumani and asked the DMK dispensation to focus on “welfare measures” rather than hounding party leaders.

Velumani was the Municipal Administration Minister from 2014 to 2021 and emerged as the most powerful person next only to Palaniswami after the latter assumed office as Chief Minister in 2017. The FIR, a copy of which is available with DH, said the case was registered following a complaint by DMK MP R S Bharathi and anti-corruption NGO Arappor Iyakkam. 

The FIR alleges that the turnover of the companies owned by Velumani’s relatives increased as much as 900 times after he took over as Municipal Administration Minister. 

The document further states that prima facie it has been established with materials that Velumani entered a criminal conspiracy with “dishonest intentions” to “injudiciously” award tenders to various companies owned by his relatives by violating various established procedures. It also accuses the officials of blatantly violating all rules of business in the allocation of tenders.

At Velumani’s residence in Coimbatore, one of the venues where raids are being conducted, over 100 AIADMK cadres gathered and protested the “political vendetta” of the new DMK dispensation. 

The raids against Velumani were not surprising as he was the first in the list of corruption charges against the then AIADMK ministers that DMK submitted to Governor Banwarilal Purohit in December 2020.