The Income Tax (I-T) department’s investigation wing has claimed that the sudden surge into Jan Dhan accounts in West Bengal were not necessarily worrying. Sources said investigators would need to analyse data to figure out anomalies, if any. Of the total Jan Dhan accounts in the country, around 25.5 crore, the state’s share is less than 10 per cent. However, it contributes almost 14 per cent of the scheme’s total deposits.
The average balance in these accounts in West Bengal at Rs 2577 is also the third highest among the major states after Punjab (Rs 3400) and Haryana (Rs 3084).
The government had repeatedly warned Jan Dhan account holders against allowing others to use their accounts to convert black money into white and has asked banks to keep a close watch on cash movement.
But the reality, on the ground, sources admitted was different. “Initially, we received reports that a number of these accounts were up for rent. The money was being channelled into these accounts to try and launder black money,” said a source.
But the I-T department’s investigation wing is relying on its real-time record of “accounts with cash transactions”. This, officials said, will allow it to track money, which was entering the banking system.
“This information will be handled by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) which looks at money laundering, terrorism and other economic offences. They will geographically map the information to find out and then dissect anomalies,” said the source. The FIU, falls under the Union Ministry of Finance.
After the FIU’s initial investigation, the I-T department will then investigate further accounts suspected of being used to launder money.
“Say we detected an anomaly in a village where everyone seems to have lakhs of rupees but this doesn’t fit with the revenue records of the village. This is an example of a red flag, which we will then correlate with our existing information, based on past records and informants to understand and investigate the nature of the laundering,” added the source.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana accounts have seen deposits surge almost 30 times by around Rs 21,000 crore in just 14 days since the government’s November 8 announcement on the withdrawal of high-denomination currency notes, government sources said on Wednesday. According to these estimates, the average weekly deposits in these accounts rose by 3,200 per cent in the two weeks since November 9.
Between March 31 and November 9 this year, the weekly deposit average in Jan Dhan accounts was Rs 311 crore, which increased to Rs 10,500 crore in the past two weeks. In effect, it should have taken roughly a year for banks to get the amount of deposits that came in during the past fortnight.