Demonetisation anniversary: Mumbai I-T dept probes 290 cases, traces Rs 3,100-crore unaccounted income

100 benami property cases under investigation; ED plans to attach assets of two firms for ‘money laundering’

Written by Khushboo Narayan | Mumbai | Updated: November 8, 2017 3:04 am

A year after the currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 were demonetised, the income tax (I-T) department in Mumbai has completed its investigation into 290 cases detected during the note ban. Sources familiar with the development said the department traced unaccounted income of Rs 3,100 crore.

“While the tax agency has detected unaccounted income of Rs 600 crore directly from the cases probed during demonetisation, at least another Rs 2,500 crore has been traced by following the trail of unaccounted deposits and remittances post November 8,” a tax official told The Indian Express.

On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced scrapping of the then existing currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500, aiming to curb corruption and black money.

The sources said the tax authority had also launched prosecution against a few individuals and entities in a lower court in Mumbai for alleged evasion of taxes following demonetisation.

According to a senior official, the tax authority is probing 100 cases relating to benami properties under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016.

“Most of these benami transaction cases have surfaced because of demonetisation. We have provisionally attached at least 40 benami properties, many of them held in the name of shell companies,” the official said.

Apart from the income tax department, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which probes cases of forex violations and money laundering, is planning to attach assets of at least two firms — Rajeshwar Exports Pvt Ltd and Pushpak Bullions Pvt Ltd — in connection with alleged money laundering after the note ban.

The agency has arrested the promoter of Pushpak Bullion, Chandrakant Narsidas Patel, and Kritika Dahal, owner of a Hong Kong-based firm connected to Rajeshwar Exports.

An ED investigation following demonetisation has found that Rajeshwar Exports used over 500 benami bank accounts of shell companies in the last one year to route Rs 1,438 crore to itself through Real Time Gross Settlement or RTGS. The diamond firm then illegally transferred this money to firms in Hong Kong.

Rajeshwar Exports’ alleged illegal act came under the lens of agencies after deposits of Rs 10 crore were found in the account of a shell company post note ban. The money trail then led to nine other firms with a deposit of Rs 45 crore in currency notes, which were withdrawn. The ED found that the deposited money was transferred to Rajeshwar Exports through a complex web of transactions between these shell firms. Using this modus operandi, the company transferred Rs 120 crore between November 8 and December 31, 2016, said ED sources.

In case of Pushpak Bullion, the ED found that cash to the tune of Rs 84.5 crore was deposited in the account of Pihu Gold and Satnam Jewels companies post demonetisation. This money was deposited between November-December 2016 and was subsequently transferred to the account of Pushpak Bullions, which purchased about 258 kg of gold.

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