ED summons TN Higher Education Minister Ponmudy again in money laundering case; MP Gautham Sigamani served charge sheet

Minister Ponmudy has been served with a summons to appear again before the ED officials in Chennai on 30 November.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Nov 24, 2023 | 4:56 PMUpdatedNov 24, 2023 | 8:32 PM

The agency sought the presence of the minister again on 30 November. (Supplied)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy once again, in connection with the money laundering case in which he was raided and interrogated in July this year.

Meanwhile, a sessions court in Chennai served copies of the ED charge sheet to Lok Sabha MP, Pon Gautham Sigamani — son of Ponmudi — and five others.

On 17 July, the ED conducted search operations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at seven locations connected to K Ponmudy and Gautham Sigamani, including the educational institutions run by the minister’s family.

During the searches, various incriminating documents, cash amounting to ₹81.7 lakh, foreign currency (British pounds) equivalent to approximately ₹13 lakh were seized, and fixed deposits of ₹41.9 crore were frozen.

Ponmudy and his son Gautham appeared before the ED officials at the Office of the Joint Director of ED at Nungambakkam in Chennai, following the raids and the summons.

They were grilled by the agency for two consecutive days.

The officials handed over the questions in writing and recorded the written statements of the minister and his son.

Also read: Ponmudy moves SC against Madras HC suo motu revision

The charge sheet

Additional Sessions Judge Malar Valentina, before whom Gautham Sigamani, KS Rajamahendran, managing director of KS Business House, V Jayachandran, K Sadanandam and M Gopinathan appeared, ordered serving of the charge sheet copies to them.

Accordingly, the charge sheet copies were furnished to them, besides the firm KS Business House.

The judge posted the matter to 22 December for further hearing.

The ED had on 23 August filed a charge sheet running to 97 pages against the accused.

Summoned for the second time

Sources in the ED confirmed to South First that Minister Ponmudy was served with a summons to appear again before ED officials at the Office of the Joint Director of ED at Nungambakkam in Chennai. The agency sought the presence of the minister on 30 November.

The source said that the officials had found a few discrepancies in the replies already given by the minister during the earlier interrogation, and they had sought some clarifications regarding the investments made overseas.

Sources close to Minister Ponmudy, pointing to the recent clash between the Governor and the Tamil Nadu government in Bills pertaining to the Chancellorship of Tamil Nadu Universities, told South First that the Union government is trying to take revenge against the minister and is using the ED again.

“Ponmudy is very keen on transferring the Chancellorship of the state-run universities from the Governor to the chief minister and was instrumental in readopting the Bills in the Assembly that were returned by the Governor. The minister had clearly answered and explained all the questions raised by the ED during the previous interrogation. And the BJP is threatening the minister using ED by summoning him again,” they said.

Also read: After Balaji, ED raids properties of TN Minister Ponmudy

The case background

The ED took proceeds of crime in a decade-old corruption case filed by the then-AIADMK government, alleging that Ponmudy abused his power while he was a minister for mines and minerals in the then-DMK regime between 2007 and 2009.

He is alleged to have used his powers to allot red sand quarries to his son and relatives, causing a loss of ₹28.36 crore to the state exchequer through excessive mining of red sand without paying a seigniorage fee.

In 2020, the ED raided the properties of Gautham Sigamani and attached his properties worth ₹8.6 crore, allegedly linked to illegal acquisition and non-repatriation of foreign exchange earnings from overseas.

The ED also found that the DMK MP allegedly invested ₹7.5 lahk in the UAE and ₹41 lakh in a company in Indonesia.