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November 6, 2020

IT Dep conducts Searches finds cash hawala transactions in 30 Trusts in Kerala and unaccounted Cash in West Bengal

by CA Shivam Jaiswal in Income Tax

IT Dep conducts Searches finds cash hawala transactions in 30 Trusts in Kerala and unaccounted Cash in West Bengal

Income Tax Department conducts searches in Kerala

The Income Tax Department has carried out search and seizure operations on 05.11.2020 in the case of a well-known self-styled evangelist of Thiruvalla in Kerala and his group of various trusts that enjoy exemption under the Income-tax Act, 1961 as charitable/religious trusts. The group operates places of worship, a number of schools and colleges across the country, a medical college and a hospital in Kerala. The action covered 66 premises located in Kerala, Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Chandigarh, Punjab and Telengana.

The searches were carried out as credible information was received that the group has received donations from foreign countries ostensibly for helping the poor and the destitute and for evangelical purposes, but was actually siphoning out such tax-exempted funds in cash to engage in unaccounted cash transactions for personal and other illegal expenses in real estate transactions.

The group operates about 30 trusts, registered across the country, and most of them exist only on paper and have been found to be used for routing the unaccounted funds and for accommodation transactions.

It has been found that the modus operandi of the group is to systematically inflate expenses with the help of other parties, who would return the inflated amount in cash through domestic hawala channels to the functionaries of the group. Some of these other parties were also covered in the search action. During the search action, evidences have been found of systematic inflation of expenses in purchase of consumables, construction expenses, real estate development expenses, payment of salary, etc.

The search has led to unearthing of a number of real estate transactions involving unaccounted cash payments. Related documents such as sale agreements, etc have been seized. The group has also inflated the price in real estate transactions to show as if the money received in donations is being spent on the activities of the trusts. The evidence found so far indicate that the siphoning of funds in cash may be running into hundreds of crores of rupees.

Unexplained cash of approximately Rs. 6 crore has also been found during the search, including Rs 3.85 crore in a place of worship in Delhi.

Substantial electronic computing and data storage has been found, which is being examined. Further investigations are going on.

Income Tax Department conducts searches in West Bengal

The Income Tax Department has carried out searches on 05/11/2020 in the case of one prominent coal trader of West Bengal having premises in Raniganj, Asansol, Purulia and Kolkata. The searches were based on intelligence gathered, which indicated that large scale unaccounted cash was being generated and used for various purposes.

The searches have led to seizure of documents indicating that companies of the assessee group held bogus investments in unquoted equity shares of paper concerns to the magnitude of around Rs. 150 crore, out of which investments of around Rs. 145 crore have been sold. These sale transactions were found to be sham transactions and have been admitted by the assessee in the statement recorded during the search.

The searches have also led to seizure of a substantial number of incriminating documents showing cash generation in coal and sand trading, sponge iron sales etc. Documents have also been seized indicating huge unaccounted expenses for facilitation of coal transport and various trading activities.

The searches have led to seizure of unaccounted cash and bullion of around Rs.  7.3 crore. Further investigations are going on.

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