Nearly 16 more imported luxury vehicles have been seized by CBI as part of its probe into the alleged racket run by a
Hyderabad-based businessman involving violation of customs law, a case which came into limelight after searches at DMK leader MK Stalin's residence.
CBI sources said a team of agency had also visited residence of Stalin's brother M K Alagiri yesterday looking for another imported vehicle which was allegedly purchased from Alex C Joseph, the mastermind.
However, the SUV registered in the name of son of DMK leader MK Stalin remained untraceable, they said.
The sources said CBI has recovered crucial property documents, locker details and other such material during searches at Joseph's home who is said to be on the run.
They said agency is likely to issue a look out notice against Joseph who is accused in the case along with DRI officer
Muruganandan allegedly knew of illegal imports made by Joseph but did not take action, the agency claimed.
Claiming it to be a major car import scam, CBI sources said they had recovered 17 vehicles yesterday through searches at 18 places which included a visit to Stalin's home in Chennai "to locate" the SUV Hummer which was allegedly imported in 2007.
The agency has so far recovered 33 cars but it believes that number of cars will increase, the sources claimed.
The agency has asked the present owners of the cars to keep these with them with an undertaking that they would produce before court whenever required.
Yesterday's operation of locating these imported vehicles turned embarrassing for the agency after one of its team visited the residence of Stalin to look out of Hummer, just couple of days after DMK pulled out from ruling
The action sparked a political storm. While Stalin alleged political vendetta, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram had expressed their displeasure over the action. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had said the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister "cannot interfere" in the functioning of CBI and have a "search stopped".
Following the heat generated in the political circles, agency Chief Ranjit Sinha had to order an internal inquiry to look for any possible procedural lapses which might have occurred while planning.
In a statement, the CBI had said a case had been registered under various sections of IPC including criminal conspiracy, forgery, cheating and abuse of official position against Joseph and Muruganandan besides unknown officials.
It pertains to a complaint that about 33 vehicles had been imported in Tamil Nadu and out of these, certain vehicles are believed to have been imported and subsequently sold in violation of import provisions causing loss of up to Rs 48 crore to the exchequer, the CBI said.
It is alleged that Muruganandan did not take any action even after identification of vehicles at the premises of certain users and unknown others.
11 cars were recovered from India Cements, seven luxury cars were seized from Chancellor of Shri Rama Chandra Medical College R
Venkatachalan, two vehicles from MGM group of companies, five from one G K Shetty Ramanna and two from Raja Shankar while one each was recovered from various private individuals based around Chennai, sources said. They said these cars were imported between 2007 and 2011.
The sources said case was registered by Chennai branch of the agency and it carried out searches after taking warrants from the court under section 165 of CrPC which gives powers to a police officer to carry out searches deemed necessary for an investigation.