IT swoops on premises linked to Ajit Pawar, others; detects Rs 1,050cr deals

The Income Tax Department has raided a major syndicate of corporates, middlemen and certain persons holding high public offices and detected transactions worth Rs 1,050-crore, an official said here on Friday.

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The Income Tax Department has raided a major syndicate of corporates, middlemen and certain persons holding high public offices and detected transactions worth Rs 1,050-crore, an official said here on Friday.

The swoops -- on the unnamed entities and individuals -- started on September 23 and are continuing on 25 residential and 15 official premises, besides permanent suites booked in Hotel Oberoi in Mumbai.

While the ITD did not name any persons/entities, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday morning confirmed that the tax sleuths had raided premises linked with him and his three sisters in Pune and Kolhapur.

The action came a day after the Nationalist Congress Party national spokesperson and Minister Nawab Malik had targetted the Narcotics Control Bureau for allegedly including some Bharatiya Janata Party activists in its raids on an alleged rave party aboard a luxury cruise ship on October 2, in which Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan was arrested.

Working on intel of over six months, the ITD said a syndicate comprising businessmen/middlemen/associates and persons holding public offices, used various code names in their records and in one case had back-date records of 10 years.

"The total transactions detected during the search are to the tune of Rs 1,050 crore. So far, cash of over Rs 4.60 crore and jewelery of Rs 3.42 crore has been seized, and 4 bank lockers have been put under restraint during the operations," the ITD said.

It claimed that the middle-men provided end-to-end services to corporates and entrepreneurs from land allotment to obtaining all government clearances.

"Despite using encrypted modes of communication and sanitising devices, the IT recovered critical digital evidence and also located a secret hideout from where various incriminating evidences were found. The liaisoners also used 'angadiyas' (personal couriers) for transfer of cash and Rs 1.50-crore was seized from one of the 'angadiyas'," said the ITD.

The documents recovered include a summary of overall cash generated and disbursed giving the particulars of the amounts received and receivable, each being more than Rs 200 crore.

The money was generated mainly through cash paid by bureaucrats for getting key postings under a certain ministry, amount paid by the contractors for getting payments released, etc.

"Major amount of cash collected had been distributed to various persons, including someone who is mentioned under a code name," said the ITD.

One of the businessmen/middlemen has amassed huge unaccounted income by purchasing lands from farmers and transferring the same to government undertakings or big corporates and many senior bureaucrats, or their relatives and other prominent people have invested in these schemes.

At one of the offices raided, the sleuths found date-wise transactions for a certain period of cash deposits of around Rs 27 crore and cash payments of around Rs 40 crore.

ITD also recovered evidences of cash payments of Rs 23 crore made to various persons, whose names are prefixed with various code words.

It said that the middleman receives payments from various businessmen and industrialists for getting lands under the schemes of government undertakings, extension of tenders/mining contracts, etc.

Besides, a WhatsApp chat with particulars of cash transactions are found showing receipts of cash of around Rs 16 crore and outflow of around Rs 12 crore.

Some of the persons searched have their own real estate and construction businesses, in respect of which evidences of cash receipts/payments have also been found.

The ITD seized voluminous digital data from mobile phones, pen-drives, hard drives, iCloud, e-mails etc. which is being examined and analyzed.

Earlier on Thursday, the targets of the IT Department were the Jarandeshwar Sugar Mills, Daund Sugar Mills, Pushpadanteshwar Sugar Mills, Ambalika Sugar Mills, and offices or residences of Ajit Pawar's three sisters in Pune and Kolhapur.

Confirming the raids, Pawar said the ITD has raided a few firms connected with him and it's their right but denied any wrongdoings.

"I am not sure whether they were conducted for political purposes or for getting more information We have been paying all taxes promptly," Pawar told mediapersons.

Pawar, the nephew of NCP President Sharad Pawar also expressed "pain" at the manner in which his sisters are being targeted by the ITD and the motive behind the action is still not clear.

"My sisters have been raided, one in Kolhapur and two in Pune. It they are targeted because they are related to me, then the people of the state must consider the levels to which the central agencies are being misused to target us," Pawar said.