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Tamil Nadu billionaire victim of Brazilian fraud

Chennai, Jan 9 () : T M Ramalingam, the Tamil Nadu billionaire could be victim of a Brazilian fraud, feels Income Tax.

TM Ramalingam holding bills of exchange from US worth $5 billion (Rs 27,000 crore), more than the cash reserves of Infosys is holding on to fake papers passed on to him by a Brazilian for some money transacted to latter probably through hawala.

The town witnessed hectic activity with TV crews and media whizzing past to reach Ramalingam in little-known Dharapuram, near Tirupur. 46-year-old Ramalingam says he will come clean after IT enquiry in Chennai on Friday.

Ramalingam’s aim was to start oil refinery in Tamil Nadu and give one million jobs. A petrol pump which rented his property opened his eyes to the prospects of money in this sector. This gave him the idea to build a refinery. The snag is that the bills are in his name, earned by him, and he defends himself by invoking God’s name.

Bankers dealing with US bills of exchange told IT that these instruments are not issued to individuals but only to corporates. S Murali Mohan Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation) can talk only after the forensic verification reports reach his table. Secondly a bill of exchange for value of $1 billion cannot be issued for this denomination.

The law cannot do anything if the bills are fake, the I-T Department cannot prosecute him, as he only possesses them and has not cheated anyone with that. He had hoped to raise debts from investors but whether he got any is not known.

Ramalingam has o’t filed tax returns for the last four years and if the bills are genuine then it will be a violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act. Two men from Kerala took him to Dubai where he met the Brazilian who gave him the bills to start a refinery. IT explored this deal and found that he was not acting any front to anybody.

He feels that his grand project to start an oil refinery in his own State is scuttled by some overzealous officials in oil ministry where he submitted a proposal. A Tamilian cheated by Delhi Babus of his goal to provide one million jobs in his motherland is his view.

Analysts feel that it could be a trader in agricultural commodities who made it big and where nobody has heard about IT could have been cheated by a Brazilian using a Dubai connection of Kerala. He might end up paying tax on the Rs 2.5 crore seized from him..

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