ED raids TN electricity minister V Senthil Balaji in money laundering probe
CHENNAI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday conducted searches against Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji and some others as part of a money laundering investigation and held multi-city searches, official sources said.
Balaji's office room at the Secretariat here was among the locations raided by the ED officials. The minister, a DMK strongman from Karur district, said he was not aware of what the officials had come searching for at his premises and assured to extend total cooperation in the probe.
The raids are being carried out at Balaji's premises in state capital Chennai and his native Karur. Besides these, ED officials also searched the house of a Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) lorry contractor in Erode district. State-run TASMAC is the retailer of liquor in Tamil Nadu.
Balaji also holds the Prohibition and Excise portfolio
The Supreme Court had earlier allowed police and ED probe into an alleged cash-for-jobs scam against Balaji, who was earlier with the AIADMK. He was Transport minister in the late Jayalalithaa-led cabinet.
The ED conducted the searches under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the sources said.
Last month, the Income Tax department too had searched people close to Balaji in the state. Responding to the ED searches today, Balaji said he was "ready to extend full cooperation" to the investigating agency. "With what intention have they come, what are they looking for, we will see. Let it get over," he told reporters soon after the sleuths started the searches. Whether it be the IT or ED, Balaji assured full cooperation for the authorities concerned, adding whatever explanation sought by officials based on documents, will be provided. The minister, who went for a morning walk, said he took a taxi back home after receiving a message about the raids at his premises.
ED officials were accompanied by central paramilitary personnel during the raids. Last month, Income Tax officials were allegedly attacked in Karur when they went to conduct searches at some places linked to Balaji.