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Day 4 of Surat I-T raids: ‘Benami deals’ worth Rs 1,700 cr; cash, jewellery worth Rs 15 cr recovered so far

The search operations, which began on December 2 under Vibhor Badoni—the Additional Director of Investigation of Surat I-T, were carried out across 30 locations of Surat and Mumbai.

An official with the I-T department said that on the basis of the intelligence inputs, their teams monitored the daily activities of the firms for around two months before carrying out the searches. (File)
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The Income-Tax (I-T) department has recovered cash and jewellery worth Rs 15 crore so far from the raids at various offices and premises of Dhanera Diamonds and Bhavna Gems and the real-estate firms linked to the companies. The raids continued to the fourth day Monday at 10 locations.

Sources said land and business documents revealing benami deals worth Rs 1,700 crore were seized during the raids that uncovered the benami deals between the diamond firms and the real-estate market. However, officials say the figure may go up to as much as Rs 2000 crore by the time the entire operation gets over.

The search operations, which began on December 2 under Vibhor Badoni—the Additional Director of Investigation of Surat I-T, were carried out across 30 locations of Surat and Mumbai.

Sources in the I-T department said Dhanera Diamonds maintained a record of only around 30 per cent of their business while the rest was kept in confidential records at a secret rented office space in Mahidharpura. Arvind Shah (Ajbani)—one of the owners of Dhanera—maintains the office and records that are updated once every week.

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A similar office of Bhavna Gems also came to light during the raids. The company maintained the benami records at a small electrical shop opposite their factory in Katargam. The officials have seized records from the past 15 years to 17 years from both firms.

They also seized land-related documents, bank lockers and digital data from Naresh Shah, Ramesh Vaghasiya and Kader Kothmir—the real-estate players linked to the diamond firms. Sources said Naresh Shah also runs non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and has huge investments in the real-estate sector.

Based on the seized documents, the officials found that Naresh and Vaghasiya used to regularly receive funds from the diamond businessmen to be diverted into the real-estate sector.
According to police and local sources, the individuals in question have links to politicians from the BJP.

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Following intelligence inputs, the teams kept a watch on the daily activities of the firms for around two months before carrying out search drives, said an I-T official, on the condition of anonymity. The officials arrived at the raid locations in vehicles that had “on election duty” stickers.

First published on: 05-12-2022 at 18:23 IST
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