The Income Tax department has found over Rs 10 crore, most of it in new Rs 2,000 notes, during a raid on multiple lockers in the Parvati branch of the Bank of Maharashtra. According to sources, the lockers belonged to an US-based MNC. The raids were conducted after the IT department became suspicious about the excessive operations being carried out in these lockers. A subsequent raid on these lockers led to the seizure of the amount which, according to I-T officers, is one of the biggest seizures of new currency notes in Maharashtra.
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Officials of Bank of Maharashtra were not available for comment on the seizure. According to sources, these lockers came under the scanner of bank officials because they were operated repeatedly over a short span of time. Initially, two lockers were opened in the presence of I-T officials, who later went through the content of 12-15 lockers, said sources.
They are now trying to ascertain whether the MNC has more lockers in other banks in the city. I-T officials also suspect the involvement of multiple businessmen, including the owner of a vehicle showroom as well as a diamond merchant based in Mumbai, in converting old currency into new notes, said sources.
As seizures of a large amount of new currency notes take place across the country, I-T officials are on the lookout for such activities in Pune as well. They are also keeping a watch on hawala as well as other benami methods of money laundering.
Since last month or so, the I-T department has kept a tab on jewellers, banks and markets to track possible cases of money laundering.
Recently, a prominent jeweller’s outlet was searched by I-T officials over alleged transactions worth Rs 60-70 crore. Officials suspect that the transaction bills were forged to help deposit unaccounted cash in banks.