At least three multistate co-operative credit societies from Maharashtra have come under the scanner of the Income-Tax department. The societies are being investigated for alleged laundering of about Rs 1,390 crore of unaccounted cash in what officials claim is large-scale tax evasion and money laundering by entities and individuals through banking channels in a span of 17 months between November 2014 and April 2016.
The I-T department is investigating Ahmednagar-based Shri Venkatesh Multistate Co-operative Credit Society Ltd, Mangaldeep Multistate Urban Co-operative Credit Society Ltd and Goreshwar Gramin Multistate Co-operative Credit Society Ltd for allegedly receiving money through unidentified individuals and entities in their bank accounts, said sources.
According to the sources, Shri Venkatesh allegedly received Rs 770 crore of unaccounted cash deposits while Mangaldeep and Goreshwar Gramin received Rs 500 crore and Rs 120 crore undisclosed cash deposits respectively. The cash deposits were allegedly transferred to beneficiaries through a web of shell companies using Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system, said the sources.
“To conceal the identities of cash depositors from regulators and enforcement agencies, the societies deliberately omitted to maintain the basic KYC (know-your-customer) details of the cash depositors,” said a source. It is alleged that the three societies gave current account membership to cash depositors. This membership, sources said, was distinct from the regular membership and was used to “channelise unaccounted cash”.
For instance, Shri Venkatesh allegedly received two deposits of Rs 285 crore and Rs 185 crore from the proprietor of a hotel and a trader in Mumbai. But an I-T inquiry allegedly found they were not present at the address mentioned in the society records. “These transactions took place during November 2014 to December 2015 and society had their business addresses to that relevant period. Since (the) past one and half year, the society had not made any such transactions with them so we do not know their exact present address…,” said Abhinath Manikrao Shinde, chairman of Shri Venkatesh Multistate Co-operative Credit Society, in an email statement.
According to sources, the three societies received cash deposits of Rs 1 crore to Rs 5 crore a day. These deposits were split into smaller amounts and transferred to the beneficiaries. The three societies allegedly executed over 4,000 RTGS transactions in 17 months. As part of the probe, the I-T conducted searches and surveys on the three societies. Sudam Wadekar, CEO of Mangaldeep Multistate Urban Co-operative Credit Society, said, “We submitted every information and document in (I-T) survey proceeding and no breach (was) done on our part.”
Sharad Kakade, MD of Goreshwar Gramin, said in an email statement: “We have taken all (KYC) documents from the customers… Secondly, I-T department has done this survey… and we have given all the records for checking and auditing. We did not get any negative remark or allegation from I-T department while checking of records…”