The Income Tax (I-T) Department had carried out a search operation that commenced on September 23 on a big syndicate involving certain businessmen and middlemen from Maharashtra and people holding public office.
The intelligence was developed over 6 months. In all, 25 residential and 15 office premises were covered under the search, while 4 offices were covered under the survey. Some suites in a five-star hotel in Mumbai, permanently rented by two of the middlemen and used for meeting their clients, were also searched.
The syndicate, consisting of businessmen/middlemen/associates and people holding public offices, used various code names in their records and in one case had back-dated records by 10 years.
The total amount of transactions detected during this search are to the tune of Rs 1,050 crore, the agency officials claimed on Thursday.
"These middlemen provided end-to-end services to corporates and entrepreneurs from land allotment to obtaining all governmental clearances. Although the middlemen used encrypted modes of communication and sanitised their devices, the I-T teams were able to recover critical digital evidence and also located a secret hideout from where various incriminating pieces of evidence were recovered. The middlemen also used 'angadiyas'(similar to couriers), for transfer of cash and Rs 150 lakh was seized from one of them during the search," the agency claimed in a statement.
"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. Key areas of generation of this money have been found to be cash paid by bureaucrats for getting key postings under a certain Ministry, cash paid by the contractors for getting payments released etc. A major amount of cash collected had been distributed to various people, including someone who is mentioned under a code name."
"Furthermore, one of the businessmen/middlemen had also amassed huge unaccounted income by purchasing lands from farmers and transferring the same to Government undertakings/big corporates. Many senior bureaucrats/their relatives and other prominent people have been found to have invested in these schemes," the agency's statement claimed, without revealing names of the people involved in the syndicate.
"During the search, evidence unearthed at the office premises includes date-wise transactions for a certain period of cash deposits of around Rs 27 crore and cash payments of around 40 crores. Further, evidence has been found of cash payments to the tune of Rs 23 crore made to various persons, whose names are prefixed with various code words. The said middle man receives payments from various businessmen and industrialists for acquiring land under the scheme of Government undertakings, extension of tenders/mining contracts, etc. Further, in a WhatsApp chat, particulars of cash transactions have been found showing receipts of cash of around Rs 16 crore and outflow of around Rs 12 crore.
The statement further claimed, "some of the persons searched have their own real estate and construction businesses, in connection to which evidence of cash receipts/payments has also been found. Voluminous digital data has been recovered and seized from mobile phones, pen-drives, hard drives, iCloud, e-mails etc. which is being examined and analyzed. So far, cash of more than Rs. 4.6 crore and jewellery valued at Rs. 3.42 crore have been seized. 4 lockers found during the search operation have been put under restraint orders,"
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