Meet Moin Qureshi: Meat exporter under tax lens, in Modi crosshairs

Qureshi did not respond to requests from The Indian Express for his comments for this report. Qureshi did not respond to requests from The Indian Express for his comments for this report.

When the income tax department began tracking the phones of Kanpur-based meat exporter Moin Akhtar Qureshi at the end of December, and raided his offices and properties in mid-February, it had not expected that the BJP and the Congress would spar over this little-known businessman in the heat of the Lok Sabha poll campaign.

Even as income tax officers worked on the leads found during the raids and pursued their probe of Qureshi’s wealth, the BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi raised the case at an election rally in Akbarpur on April 18. “Shouldn’t the truth come out?” Modi demanded, hinting at a scandal.

Eight days later, Modi escalated his attack and alleged that conversations of persons who had “close links” with 10 Janpath, the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, figured in the telephone calls intercepted by the income tax department. He also alleged that Qureshi has strong ties with 10 Janpath and other Congress leaders.

Qureshi did not respond to requests from The Indian Express for his comments for this report.

For 57-year-old Qureshi who got into business through a small abattoir in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh in 1993, the attention is as unusual as it is apparently unwelcome. Following the income tax raids, Delhi’s chatterati and bureaucracy have been abuzz with talk of his alleged links to top investigation agencies, bureaucrats and politicians. For the record, Qureshi’s daughter Pernia was married to London-based chartered accountant Ajith Prasad’s son Arjun, a close relative of Union minister of state Jitin Prasada.

A Doon school alumnus and president of its old boys’ society, Qureshi is known to have started 25 companies since 1993, with AMQ Agro, which exports animal gut, being the flagship firm. Filings with the Registrar of Companies show that seven of his companies deal in real estate and have non-descript activities with a low paid-up capital base. He is also into construction, among others, and daughter Pernia runs a fashion store.

Although some industry watchers say that Qureshi’s  empire started expanding in 2005, one source said Qureshi had become a business associate of the controversial late liquor baron Ponty Chaddha in 1995. However, he is said to have fallen out of favour with Chaddha’s son Monty after Ponty’s death in 2012.

Income tax officials allege that the wealth and the lifestyle of the Qureshis, and the annual turnover of all his firms – which was under Rs 80 crore in 2012-13 – do not add up. More than two months after they raided him, his alleged undisclosed income is said to be around Rs 150 crore.

Qureshi’s first brush with controversy happened during Pernia’s wedding in February 2011. He had flown in celebrated Pakistani Sufi singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to entertain his guests and Khan was arrested at the …continued »