The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested Manuneethi Cholan, Registrar of Companies in Chennai, for accepting Rs 10 lakh bribe from prominent industrialist M A M Ramaswamy.
In a statement, CBI said that reliable information was received that Cholan had demanded Rs 10 lakhs as illegal gratification from Ramaswamy who is Chairman of the Chettinad Group of Companies. The statement also revealed that there was an attempt by a rival group within the management to take control over the Chettinad Group during the annual general meeting to be held on August 27 in Chennai.
Cholan, according to CBI, demanded the illegal gratification for not approving the decision that was going to be taken at the AGM.
CBI also said the vehicle in which Cholan was travelling immediately after collection of the money was intercepted and a surprise check was conducted in the car and the bribe amount accepted by Cholan was seized.
The Honda City Sedan car in which the accused was travelling was also seized. Searches were conducted at the residence an offices of Cholan and at the office at Chettinad House in the city. Several incriminating documents and a computer hard disc were seized.
Further, an amount of Rs 20 lakh was seized from the residence of Cholan. The searches are still continuing. Cholan is being produced before the special judge court for CBI cases.
Phone calls made to Chettinad Group and Ramaswamy’s son and Chettinad Group’s Head and Managing Director M A M R Muthiah went unanswered.
Local media had come out with unconfirmed reports that Ramaswamy filed a complaint against “some family member” in a local police station stating that his life was in danger and someone was watching his house. The information could not be verified.
Ramaswamy is known to be the richest Chettiar, one of the richest communities in the country, on an individual basis and also known as Chettinad Arasar (King) and he has also been the Sheriff of Chennai for two terms. His grandfather was the the Rajah of Chettinad. In 2012, Forbes listed him as the 88th richest person in India with a net worth of $ 650 million.
The Chettinad Group has over 15 companies, including listed Chettinad Cement, and others are engaged in manufacturing (granites, silica and quartz), services (coal handling and engineering), trading, IT, wind farm and plantations.
Ramaswamy, the horse-racer who entered the Guinness Book by winning more than 300 Classic Races, today owns approximately 1,000 horses. The Chettinad Palace in the city, in which MAM lives, is located on a 70-acre area.