Fresh statewide raids by ED on properties owned by associates of Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji

This is the fourth time the ED has raided the properties of Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji or his associates.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Aug 03, 2023 | 8:16 PM Updated Aug 03, 2023 | 8:16 PM

ED raids on Senthil Balaji

Officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, 3 August, raided the properties of people close to arrested Minister V Senthil Balaji at seven places in Coimbatore, Karur, and Dindigul districts.

This is the fourth time the ED has raided the properties of Balaji or his associates.

The raids, carried out under the protection of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), began in the morning and were continuing at the time of filing this report.

The searches are being undertaken under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), sources told South First.

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Where did the raids take place?

In Coimbatore, the ED sleuths raided a house of Tasmac supervisor Muthubalan at Maniyam Subramaniyar Street of 80 feet road in Ramanathapuram.

Raids were also conducted on the properties related to a construction firm — Arun & Associates — at Nadar Street on Trichy road, which is said to be associated with Balaji’s brother Ashok Kumar.

In Karur, the searches were being carried out at three places on Thursday.

The properties of Senthil Balaji’s personal assistant Shankar at Sengunthapuram and his residence at Ambal Nagar were searched by ED officials.

The house and office of a private tile showroom owner Prakash, a Rajasthan native, was raided by the officials.

In Dindigul, the properties of Veera Saminathan, who was secretary of the DMK South Vedasandur Union, were raided by the ED officials. Saminathan is said to be a close associate of the minister. He is alleged to have been responsible for collecting cash from Tasmac outlets in 25 districts of Tamil Nadu, the sources said.

Raids were also conducted at a granite quarry and at a private finance company in Dindigul.

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Minister without portfolio

Balaji continues to be a minister without portfolio in the Tamil Nadu government even after his arrest by the ED on 14 June in a money laundering case linked an alleged cash-for-jobs scam in the Tamil Nadu Transport Department.

The federal probe agency told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Balaji was preventing it from exercising its right of custodial interrogation and the apex court reserved its verdict on the pleas of the DMK leader and his spouse challenging his arrest.

The top court had on 21 July sought the ED’s response on the petitions filed by Balaji and his wife Megala challenging the 14 July 14 of the Madras High Court upholding his arrest by the probe agency in the money laundering case.

The minister and his wife filed two separate petitions in the top court, challenging the high court order.

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ED’s charges

The agency had earlier claimed that Balaji allegedly “misused” his office for illegal gratification and “engineered” a job racket scam in the state transport undertakings during 2014-15 — when he was a minister in the previous AIADMK regime — with purported kickbacks paid by candidates to his associates, including his brother Ashok Kumar and one B Shanmugam.

The ED filed a case of money laundering in September 2021 to probe these allegations and its complaint is based on three Tamil Nadu Police FIRs filed in 2018 and some later years by some of those who failed to get the promised jobs.

(With inputs from PTI)