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Illegal car imports: DRI officer shielded Alagiri, Stalin

Mar 25, 2013 06:12 PM IST India India

New Delhi/Chennai: It is not just DMK chief M Karunanidhi's younger son and his heir apparent MK Stalin and his son Udayanidhi, but even the DMK chief's elder son and former central minister MK Alagiri allegedly used illegally imported cars. Now CNN-IBN exposes how a Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officer allegedly covered up the illegal car imports of Alagiri , Stalin and his son and how luxury import cars used by DMK's first family in Chennai could not be 'traced'.

A probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) reveals Udayanidhi has a Toyota Estima bought in violation of import duty rules while Alagiri and Stalin may also be using illegally imported cars. The CBI is investigating a BMW X5, a Toyota Lexus and a Prado SUV being used by Alagiri, Stalin and their families.

A CBI raid meant to seize an illegally imported vehicle from Stalin's home, one of 33 vehicles imported without paying duty, came just 48 hours after the party pulled out of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Stalin called the raids vendetta.

"It's obvious, the government is trying to get back at us," said DMK leader TKS Elangovan about the raids.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram gave a rare clarification and said that the raids were not needed.

Investigations have now revealed that not just Stalin's son but other members of the Karunanidhi family too should have also been investigated for using illegally imported cars. But they were knowingly spared by a Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officer for over four years.

A CBI report reveals DRI senior investigation officer Muruganandan knew a Toyota Estima - registration number TN 03 7789 was being used by Udayanidhi, yet he did not seize the car. Instead Muruganandan submitted a false report saying the car could not be traced .

Moreover, sources in the CBI say that is not just Udayanidhi, but other members of the DMK family also use illegally imported cars. The details of the cars are:

A BMW X5, registration number TN 04 AC 000
A Lexus registration number TN 01 AE 8080
A Prado SUV, registration number and TN 07 AQ 6000

All the above cars are in possession of Alagiri, Stalin and Udayanidhi. Despite the knowledge, Muruganandan did not seize the cars, once again submitting a false report that the cars could not be traced.

Since March 2008, the DRI was investigating how fancy cars and SUVs were being illegally imported past Chennai customs. During searches against importer Alex Joseph, documents allegedly incriminating members of DMK's first family were seized. But the DRI took no action.

Was the DRI's Investigating Officer Murugandan acting of his own free will or was he taking orders? Was there a pay-off? All this subject to investigation. Will the CBI get to the facts of an illegal car import racket or will politics muddy the picture?