US bond case: I-T grills TN bizman; genuineness of papers being checked
Chennai: Income Tax officials on Friday subjected to intense interrogation a Tamil Nadu businessman from whose residence purported US securities with a face value of Rs 28,000 crore (USD 5 billion) were recovered and said it would take at least a week to ascertain their genuineness.
As the day-long grilling of Tirupur district-based T M Ramalingam at the I-T office remained inconclusive, a top I-T official said the seized papers were purported to be international bills of exchange and not US Treasury Bonds.
"We are verifying the genuineness of so called international bills of exchange whose base value is mentioned as USD 1 billion each. There are five such papers... They are international bills of exchange and not Treasury bonds," I-T Additional Director (Investigation) Murali Mohan told reporters here.
On questioning of Ramalingam, which began this morning, he said the businessman had been giving different versions.
"As of now, he is mentioning that he has got it (the papers) from a Brazilian based person in exchange for gold bonds. We are verifying...," he said.
Mohan said the department had so far not received any confirmation from any of the (US) agencies and it would probably be received by next week.
Earlier, Ramalingam, accompanied by his lawyers, arrived at the I-T office in the morning and the grilling continued till late in the evening.
He was summoned by the I-T officials after seizure of the securities with such huge face value from his residence at Upputhurai Palayam near Dharapuram in the district during a raid on December 31.
Mohan said Ramalingam had neither filed his income tax returns for the last four years nor disclosed his wealth.
He said IT officials had recovered some fixed deposits documents from a bank locker of Ramalingam, who has business interests in farm implements and commodity trade.
Asked if the CBI was also involved in the investigation, the officer replied in the negative. "No. Only Income Tax department is investigating. Actually we are waiting for confirmation of the genuinity of the papers," he said.
"We do not know whether it is US department of Treasury or not. It is mentioned (as such) on these papers."
To a question, he said Ramalingam did not have any export or import business and it was not clear how he got them when he was not a trader.
"He said he has exchanged it against some gold bonds which he was owning for a long time. We are verifying it with the Union government who have taken it up with the US government," Mohan said.
The I-T raid followed Ramalingam's reported application to the Petroleum and Chemicals Ministries, seeking sanction to set up a Rs 1,000 crore crude oil refinery in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu.
Ramalingam used to make frequent trips to countries like Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia. A year ago, he had applied for sanction to set up the refinery in Thondi.