£28.1 mn 'collection racket' busted in MP

Wednesday 10th April 2019 07:03 EDT

The Delhi Directorate of Income Tax on Monday detected a "wide spread", "organised" racket of unaccounted cash of about £28.1 million in Madhya Pradesh. The team raided several properties that belong to businessmen, politicians and people related to other public services. "A part of the cash was also transferred to the headquarter of a major political party in Delhi, including about £2 million which was moved through hawala recently to the headquarter of the political party from the residence of a senior functionary at Delhi's Tughlak Road," news agency ANI said quoting its sources.

The development comes even as the Income Tax department's searches against close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and others continued on the second day on Monday. The poll body had on Sunday told enforcement agencies to inform it about any such exercise before undertaking it. "The Election Commission strongly advises that all enforcement actions during the election period, even when conducted ruthlessly with a view to curb the blatant electoral malpractice (of using money power to influence voter behaviour), be absolutely neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory. Further, in case of suspected use of such illicit money for electoral purposes, the Chief Electoral Officer should be kept suitably informed while the Model Code of Conduct is in force," a letter issued by the EC to investigation agencies read.

News agency ANI further quoted its CBDT sources as saying that unaccounted cash of £1.46 milion, 252 bottles of liquor, few arms and hide-skins of tiger were also found. "Searches in Delhi in group of a close relative of the senior functionary led to seizure of incriminating evidence, including cash book recording unaccounted transactions of Rs 230 crore," they said.

It added that the searches in Delhi in the group of a close relative of the senior functionary have further led to the seizure of "incriminating evidence, including cash book recording unaccounted transactions of Rs 230 crore, siphoning off money through bogus billing of more than £24.2 million and evidence of more than 80 companies in tax havens."

The CBDT said several unaccounted/benami properties at posh locations in Delhi have also been detected. It said these "instances of violations of the model code of conduct are being brought to the notice of the Election Commission". The searches, on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions during the ongoing poll season, continued on Monday at various premises in Bhopal, Indore, Delhi and the national capital region. The department had on Sunday launched pre-dawn raids at 52 locations of people and associates linked to Kamal Nath.

Sources said that there is a "strong possibility" of the cash recovered during the operation being used as an election inducement to fund political campaigns and bribe voters in the poll-bound state and in Delhi. A preliminary report of the raids has also been shared by the department with the CBDT and the Election Commission in Delhi. A cash van with large-sized trunks has been sent by the department at a location in Bhopal to seize and collect the cash found during the raids, they said.

Those searched included Nath's former Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Pravin Kakkar, former adviser Rajendra Miglani, Ashwani Sharma and executives linked to his brother-in-law's firm Moser Bayer and a company of his nephew Ratul Puri. Nath had reacted to the development. "The situation about the I-T raids is not clear yet. It would be appropriate to speak on this after the situation is clear. But the entire country knows how the constitutional institutions were used and against whom they were used during the past five years," he had said.

"These institutions were used to scare people. When they do not have anything to say on development and their work, they used this kind of tactics against their opponents," the CM's statement had said.

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