The Income Tax (IT) department’s recent search and seizure operations at the headquarters and one of the branches of a credit cooperative bank in Maharashtra have taken the lid off more than 1,200 new bank accounts which were opened by the bank without the Permanent Account Number (PAN).
According to an IT official, the analysis of bank data and the statements of key persons recorded during the search action have revealed that there were other glaring irregularities. For instance, these accounts were opened without following KYC norms and all forms were filled in by the bank staff, using their signature/thumb impressions.
The operation was carried out on October 27 and the residence of the chairman and one of the bank directors were also searched.
In these accounts, multiple cash deposits, each of Rs 1.9 lakh, totalling Rs 53.72 crore, were made, the official said. Of these, more than 700 bank accounts were opened in series, where cash deposits of over Rs 34.1 crore were made immediately within seven days of opening from August 2020 to May 2021. “These deposits have been structured to avoid mandatory PAN requirements for cash deposits over Rs 2 lakh. The money has been subsequently converted into fixed deposits in the same branch,” the official said.
When local enquiries were made from a few account holders, these persons categorically denied any knowledge of such bank accounts or even the fixed deposits; they are not aware of the aforementioned cash deposits either.
The chairman, CMD and the manager of the branch, could not explain the source of the cash deposits and accepted that these were done at the behest of one of the directors of the bank, who is a prominent local businessman engaged in trading of grains.
Having ascertained that the account holders were not aware of the cash or the fixed deposits, the Income-Tax Department has restrained the entire amount of Rs 53.72 crore so deposited.
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