I-T dept seizes $5bn US bonds from Tirupur consultant COIMBATORE: The investigation wing of the Income Tax (I-T) department in Coimbatore has seized US treasury bonds worth about Rs 27,500 crore from a 45-year- old man claiming to be a financial broker-cum-business consultant in Dharapuram in Tirupur district. I-T sleuths here said the bonds were seized in a raid on December 31 at the residence of T M Ramalingam on Dharapuram-Palani Road near Upputhurai, about 80 kms from Coimbatore, in Tirupur district. The bonds are worth $5 billion. The investigating officers have also seized other financial documents from him including Rs 1.5 crore in fixed deposit receipts from banks in Tirupur district. They have sent the seized bonds to the financial intelligence unit wing in New Delhi for verifying its authenticity. They will also probe his source of income and financial status to confirm whether he had procured the bonds on his own or was acting as a conduit for any other industrial baron in the state, especially in the western region. "We have seized the bonds and are now trying to verify whether those are genuine. The raid was conducted on Wednesday on the basis of a tip-off from financial consultants. This appears to be the most baffling raid as the individual does not seem like a person who could raise such a huge amount. But we are verifying and tracking his financial transaction and business dealings to confirm these details," said a senior I-T official here in Coimbatore. According to I-T officials, Ramalingam, who claims to be a financial broker involved in numerous business deals, was in possession of the bonds issued by the US Federal Reserve, which had his name and address printed on it. Sources claimed the dates mentioned on the bonds were 2014 and 2015. "It looks genuine but we cannot confirm anything at the moment," said a senior I-T official. The officials claimed that they were stunned on seeing bond receipts worth $5 billion in Ramalingam's possession. Ramalingam, who is married with two children, owns an Innova car and has agriculture land holdings. His passport entries indicate that he was a frequent flyer to countries including Brazil, China and Myanmar. Ramalingam told TOI that he had travelled abroad a dozen times but only to countries like Dubai and not to China. A senior official claimed that Ramalingam has some business interests in Singapore. "We are probing his financial records. His arrest and further actions will be handled by other agencies," an I-T officer said. However, Tirupur SP Amit Kumar Singh said I-T department, which conducted the operation, was yet to file a police complaint. When a TOI correspondent visited Ramalingam's house, it turned out to be a modest building, with an SUV parked outside. Ramalingam confirmed to TOI that sleuths had raided his place. "I admit that they took away financial documents, mostly international bills of exchange worth $5 billion. They also checked my bank locker and sealed them," Ramalingam said. As per Indian laws, a resident Indian can invest up to $200,000 in a financial year to buy foreign currency assets. Ramalingam told officials that he received the bonds from a friend in Brazil. "We have some details about the Brazilian. After we got the tip-off from a few financial brokers, we sent an official posing as a buyer of the bonds. Initially, Ramalingam didn't believe our official. We then opened a bank account in the official's name and showed the account balance of a few crores of rupees to win his confidence. He asked the 'buyer' to come to various places before finally showing the bonds." Another team of IT officials raided his house and collected documents including Rs 1.5 crore in fixed deposit receipts from banks. "As per his bank details, Rs 30 crore was deposited in his account a few months ago and after few days, Rs 20 crore was transferred to another account. We are probing these transactions," the officer said. Investigators said Ramalingam, on interrogation, spoke about his dream of starting a Rs 40,000 crore oil refinery in Ramanathapuram, in southern Tamil Nadu. He had approached real estate brokers in Ramanathapuram to buy 600 acres, they said.