Chennai: The Enforcement Directorate on Monday said it has attached 174 immovable properties located in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh worth Rs 243.80 crore and shares and vehicles worth Rs 2.29 crore in connection with the gutkha scam in Tamil Nadu.
The properties have been attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), it said.
According to the ED, its investigations under PMLA had revealed the accused A.V. Madhava Rao, P.V. Srinivasa Rao, Tallam Uma Shankar Gupta and others had associated in illegal manufacture, sale and distribution of chewing tobacco product in Tamil Nadu and had a turnover of Rs 639.40 crore between June 2013-June 2016.
This money was invested in movable and immovable properties in Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, it said.
According to the ED, bribes were paid to central and state government officials for allowing the illegal gutkha business which is a criminal activity under the PMLA and properties acquired by illegal means are liable for attachment.
The ED said as per its investigation, the accused made investments by purchasing land in the name of Gayathri Realtors, Medha Dairy Private Ltd, Vaijayanthi Spinners and others.
Personal investments and purchase of three factory premises were made by the accused in their names and also in the names of relatives/employees during the period to facilitate smooth running of their illegal gutkha business.
In addition, shares were purchased in Goutham Buddha Textile Park, Guntur and vehicles were purchased for the sale and distribution of gutkha products.
The major investments in real estate made by the accused were in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh apart from investments in Tamil Nadu's Salem as well as Puduchery and Chennai.
The ED has initiated investigations, under the PMLA's provisions, against unknown officials of state and central government, public servants and others based on a FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the scam.
The CBI had registered the FIR on directions of the Madras High Court to conduct an investigation into all aspects of the offence of illegal manufacture, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutkha and other chewable tobacco which were banned in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with effect from May 2013.