The Income Tax Department on Wednesday conducted searches at the houses and offices of actors Vijay, Nayanthara and Samantha Ruth Prabhu in connection with alleged tax evasion. The I-T Department raided 35 places in Chennai, Madurai, Kochi , Thiruvananthapuram and Hyderabad from 7a.m. .
A senior Income Tax official told The Hindu , “We received a tip-off that some investments in the movie Puli are not explained. We also got information that the two actresses have evaded tax and we are looking into their documents and details that they have produced during the search,” he added
The IT sleuths also searched properties of producers of Puli, Shibu Thameen and P.T. Selvakumar, which happens to be the most expensive film in Vijay's career. Film financiers Madurai Anbu and Ramesh have also come under the IT scanner.
As soon as the news of the raid broke, Vijay's fans took to twitter and said that the raid was 'politically motivated.' An analyst, who tracks the entertainment industry, said under the condition of anonymity, “This is politically motivated and the actor has always faced challenges a day or a week before the release of his movie.”
Vijay's earlier films Thalaivaa , Thuppakki and Kaththi faced protests from some fringe groups. In 2013, the Tamil Nadu government stalled the release of Thalaivaa due to bomb threats from unknown outfits.
But, the Income Tax Department has clarified that the raid has nothing to do with any specific actor or any political party. “If you think we are targeting one actor or it is politically motivated, why would we raid the places of the actress who have no connection Puli ? We did a complete background check before we went ahead with the searches,” an official said.
Special Correspondent writes from Kochi
As part of the raids, searches were conducted on premises owned by Nayanthara and Shibu Thameen in various parts of the State.
A team of I-T officials from Chennai and Kochi carried out searches at Nayanthara's riverside apartment at Thevara and a house at Thiruvalla. The actor, at present shooting for a Mammootty-starrer in Malayalam, was present at the apartment with her parents, an official said.
As no one was available at the house at Thiruvalla, a driver accompanied the officials with the key of the house. Thameen's residence at Neyyattinkara remained locked. But, his wife was present at a flat he owned in Thiruvananthapuram. Two offices he operated in the city were also searched.
Despite being in a State of shock, the actor cooperated with the proceedings, they said. The searches began early in the morning and continued till late on Wednesday.
It was not immediately known if seizures were made .