Income Tax officials question actor Vijay, recover ₹65 crore during raids

Officials of the Income Tax Department found Rs 65 crore during raids on a powerful financier in the Tamil film industry, say sources as they also questioned actor Vijay yesterday. Income Tax officials searched the properties of AGS Cinemas and film financier Anbu Cheliyan in Madurai and questioned Vijay in connection with an alleged tax evasion case. Vijay’s home in Chennai too was searched yesterday.

“The counting is still going on and the total seizure is likely to go up,” an official said.

Officials claim their probe revealed unaccounted transactions between Anbu Cheliyan and Vijay following which the actor’s home on East Coast Road outside Chennai was raided. Vijay is being questioned today as well.

AGS Cinemas had produced Vijay-starrer super hit film Bigil last year.

“The AGS group and the financier were under our watch for quite some time with regards to their films,” an officer said.

Vijay, son of veteran film director SA Chandrasekhar, is believed to nurture political ambitions.

The BJP in Tamil Nadu and the ruling AIADMK had opposed his film Mersal, released in October 2017, for containing dialogues seen as critical of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the notes ban.

The BJP had demanded cuts in Mersal, alleging that some dialogues portray “untruths” about GST and the centre’s Digital India campaign.

After the GST was rolled out, some 1,000 cinema halls in Tamil Nadu had remained shut for days in protest against imposition of local body tax in addition to GST.

Officials denied reports that the actor was escorted by them to Chennai from his shooting location in Cuddalore district yesterday. “We were extremely courteous. It was Vijay who chose to wind up and return home where his wife was when searches were undertaken.  We know he is a big star and our senior officers had given specific instructions to treat him with utmost courtesy,” an officer said.

The searches were carried out in as many as 38 locations in Tamil Nadu. Income Tax officials say the searches are purely based on evidences and no political connotation ought to be given.

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