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Tamil Nadu `billionaire’ was no stock broker

Chennai, Jan 3 () : Ramalingam, the Tamil Nadu-based `billionaire’ who was found to be having US treasury bonds is estimated to be worth Rs 28,000 crore or around $5 billion is not a stock broker of any stock exchange in India.

He was member of a commodity exchange in Dharapuram. A commodities exchange trades in various agricultural commodities and raw materials like wheat, rice etc.

The man who claimed to be a stock broker said that the bonds were given by a Brazilian investor to set up an oil refinery. Indian Revenue Officials got the tip-off from the branch of a foreign bank in Chennai who found the bonds to be genuine. However, another view is that it is likely to be fake. If it turns out to be genuine, the amount would nearly equal the total black money seized in two years.

Yet another puzzling question is an Indian citizen holding US bonds in India since it cannot be converted into rupees or traded here. India does not have a convertible currency. Indian citizen can hold foreign currency assets in any country up to $200,000 but only overseas. If it is repatriated it has to be converted into Indian currency.

US treasury bonds, issued by US fed are the world’s most secure paper instruments. Ramalingam told he was holding international bills of exchanges and bonds worth $5 billion. The IT department has given a receipt for those documents.

Ramalingam on whose property stands a petrol station which he has rented out, sent a project report to set up a crude oil refinery, outlaying an investment of about Rs 1.5 lakh crore, in collaboration with a Brazilian investor. It was to come in Thondi (a port town in the Ramanathapuram district). He claims that this report sent to the Union government had IT men trooping into his house.

I-T department from Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Kochi and Bangalore searched Ramalingam’s house and bank accounts. The documents have been sent to the New Delhi ‘s US Embassy for verification.