Sekar Reddy’s ‘secret diary’: Were OPS, other ministers on mining baron’s payroll?

Sekar Reddy vehemently denied that he ever wrote a diary and that he had no commercial relationship with any politician
If contents of a diary seized by the Income Tax department from Sekar Reddy – industrialist and mining baron – are to be believed, then half of the Tamil Nadu Cabinet was on his payroll.

Five pages of the diary, which have notings on some days between April and November 2016, show alleged payments made to many ministers and MLAs part of the AIADMK, and various others, to the tune of over Rs 48 crore.

It is the name of the man who started a ‘dharmayuddham’ in Tamil Nadu – Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam – that allegedly stars most number of times in the pages that have been accessed.

Though diary entries are being investigated by the I-T department, and nothing is conclusive, a nexus between the ruling class of Tamil Nadu and the mining baron has been hinted at by several people over the last few months. The diary goes on to add fuel to these allegations.

However, speaking to TNM, Sekar Reddy said he had no habit of writing a diary. “What should I react to? Why should I react? First, tell me whose diary is this? Because I don’t have a habit of keeping a diary,” he said.  

J Sekar Reddy, an industrialist and mining baron, became the poster boy for the black money crackdown after demonetisation last year. It was on December 9, 2016 that Income Tax officials carried out raids and seized Rs 96.89 crore cash in old high denomination notes, and over Rs 9 crore in Rs 2,000 currency, along with gold weighing over 100 kg.

Sekar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in March on money laundering charges. This after the ED had registered a case against him under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA).

What the diary contains, allegedly about OPS

The contents of the diary, first published in The Week magazine by Lakshmi Subramanian, show at least five transactions in which the name “OPS” or the name of his secretary Ramesh have been written. Two entries, on 31.8.2016, and on a November 2016 date, mention “Periyavar”; investigators are probing whether Periyavar – which could be translated to “elder man” or “big man” – could refer to O Panneerselvam.

The transactions that mention either OPS, Ramesh or Periyavar are:

OPS Ramesh  – Rs 50 lakh on 14.7.2016

OPS Ramesh – Rs 25 lakh on 20.7.2016

m. Periyavar/Ramesh – Rs 3.5 crore on 31.8.2016

OPS Ramesh – Rs 3.7 lakh on 28.10.2016 

OPS adv – Rs 3.7 lakh on 28.10.2016 

OPS Ramesh garden expenses – Rs 20 lakh on 29.10.2016

Periyavar m. – Rs 25 lakh in November 2016

A payment of Rs 1 crore made in the name of “Advo Kasi” is being investigated as to whether it was made to O Panneerselvam’s son-in-law, who incidentally is an advocate named Kasinathan.

When asked about his relationship with OPS, Sekar Reddy said, “He had come to the Tirupati temple and since I was in the Board, I took him inside and posed for a photograph with him. There is nothing else.” He also insisted that he has no commercial relationship with any of the people mentioned in the diary. “I don’t know with what interest and who has released this diary,” Sekar Reddy said agitatedly. 

Other ministers

The diary notings also talk about gold and silver gifts to various individuals. I-T officials are probing if the diary notings where a circled “m.” appears, refer to payments to ministers in the TN cabinet.

Two diary notings in November 2016 refer to “HM” and “Health”, which the I-T department suspects might refer to Health Minister C Vijayabaskar. Following raids on Sekar Reddy, Vijayabaskar too was raided by the I-T department in April 2017.

One entry says a payment of 1 crore was made to “HM Old”, which could indicate the settlement of an old due. The very next entry says “Health – Rs 5 crore”. A previous entry, on 27.6.2016, for Rs 1 crore, says “HM”.

There is a diary noting dated 28.8.2016, which says “TR” and a circled “m.”, against Rs 1 crore. This, investigators suspect, could refer to Transport Minister MR Vijayabhaskar.

The other diary notings which mention a circled “m.” – suspected to refer to ministers:
m. Thangamani Dinesh EB – Rs 50 lakh on 17.4.2016
m. Thangamani – Rs 50 lakh on 17.6.2016
m. Revenue PSO – Rs 25 thousand on 22.6.2016
Environment m. PA – Rs 2 lakh on 30.8.2016
m. Revenue ex-PSO Perumal – Rs 10 thousand on 28.10.2016
m. I/Ramesh – Rs 1 crore on 31.10.2016 (This could indicate Industries Minister MC Sampath, investigators suspect.)
Krishnasamy MLA – Rs 5 lakh on 21.6.2016 (This could indicate the leader of Puthiya Tamizhagam party, investigators suspect.)
Dindigul local m. – Rs 5 lakh on 27.6.2016 (This could indicate Forest Minister Dindigul Sreenivasan, investigators suspect.)

Other payments

There are notings of small payments made allegedly to I-T officers, a collector’s car rent etc. There is also a payment on 28.6.2016 in the name of Mannargudi Mahadevan for Rs 10 lakh.
This, investigators suspect, could refer to Sasikala’s nephew, who died on April 15 this year.
There is also a big payment in the name of “Poo”, for Rs 1.5 crore. Investigators are probing whether this could refer to Poongundran, the PA of late TN CM Jayalalithaa.
There are two payments which refer to “garden”, which could indicate Jayalalithaa’s residence, Poes Garden, investigators suspect. Both these payments were around Rs 3 lakh each.

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