Senthil Balaji turned TN transport department into corrupt chiefdom to execute cash-for-jobs scam: ED

Lodged in the Puzhal jail here, Balaji continues to be a minister without portfolio in the Chief Minister M K Stalin-led cabinet and his judicial custody has been extended till September 15

Tamil Nadu electricity minister V. Senthil Balaji (photo: IANS)
Tamil Nadu electricity minister V. Senthil Balaji (photo: IANS)


The entire recruitment process in the Tamil Nadu transport department during the tenure of minister V Senthil Balaji was turned into a "corrupt chiefdom" and the "cash-for-jobs scam" was executed under his authority, the Enforcement Directorate has claimed in a recent chargesheet filed in the case.

The prosecution complaint, filed under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), was submitted by the federal agency on August 12 before a special court in Chennai, which took cognisance of it on August 16.

DMK leader Balaji (47) was arrested by the ED on June 14 in connection with the "cash-for-jobs scam" alleged to have taken place when he was the transport minister in the previous AIADMK regime in the southern state from 2011 to 2016.

Lodged in the Puzhal jail here, Balaji continues to be a minister without portfolio in the Chief Minister M K Stalin-led cabinet and his judicial custody has been extended till September 15.

"The whole recruitment in the transport department during the tenure of the then minister V Senthil Balaji has turned into a corrupt chiefdom, in which, as per the illegal directions of the chief (V Senthil Balaji), recruitment process was designed and implemented," the ED alleged in the chargesheet.

It said Balaji played a "pivotal and central" role, "exploiting" his official capacity as the transport minister for personal gains through corrupt and illegal means.

"He directly acquired illicit proceeds resulting from criminal activities linked to scheduled offences and collaborated with co-conspirators, including his brother, personal assistants and officials from the transport department, to orchestrate a strategy," it alleged.

The agency said Balaji and his two personal assistants -- B Shanmugan and M Karthikeyan -- denied their connections with each other during the recording of their statements, but investigative and forensic findings "decisively established" their links and his (Balaji's) involvement and role.

It said a paper sheet seized in the case stated that all the candidates who applied and approached Balaji and his PAs for recruitment got jobs illegally by way of "illegal gratification" derived by the minister.

"Therefore, it is crystal clear that V Senthil Balaji continuously and meticulously monitored and executed a job racket scam along with his PAs -- B Shanmugam and M Kartikeyan," the ED alleged.

It said the plan for the alleged scam involved channelling cash through the minister's brother (Ashok Balaji) and accomplices and this was supported by digital evidence found during the investigation.

"These records outlined cash collections and job placements. Furthermore, the investigation unveiled tampering in candidate marks, favouring those who paid bribes to the accused," the agency said.

It said it has seized a pen drive that contained an excel sheet, which showed that a driver's post in the transport department was "priced and sold" for Rs 1.75 lakh, a conductor's post for Rs 2.25 lakh, a junior tradesman's post for Rs 5 lakh, a junior assistant's post for Rs 7 lakh and an assistant engineer's post for Rs 12 lakh.

The ED analysed the bank statements of Balaji and his wife S Meghala and found "huge cash deposits, especially during/after the period of the job racket scam in the MTC (Metropolitan Transport Corporation)".

Being a public servant, Balaji "misused" his official capacity as the then transport minister and obtained pecuniary benefits by corrupt and illegal means and directly acquired the proceeds of crime that were generated out of a criminal activity related to a scheduled offence, the agency alleged.

It said some of the "proceeds of crime" were laundered by depositing money in the bank accounts of Balaji's family members and associates for use or projection as untainted money and thereby, he was knowingly and actually involved in the process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime and eventually, committed the offence of money laundering.

The ED filed a case of money laundering in July 2021 to probe these allegations and its complaint is based on three Tamil Nadu Police FIRs lodged in 2018 and complaints from some of those who failed to get the promised jobs. 

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