Income Tax raids conducted in Chhattisgarh have revealed that "unaccounted cash" sourced from liquor and mining businesses was being paid to public servants every month, the CBDT said on Monday. Issuing a late night statement, the board claimed "unaccounted transactions" of over Rs 150 crore have also been unearthed during the searches that were conducted on February 27 against a group of individuals, hawala dealers and businessmen in state capital Raipur that covered over 25 premises.
Without naming anyone, the statement said the action "was mounted on the basis of credible inputs, intelligence and evidence of generation of huge unaccounted cash from liquor and mining business and transfer of the same to public servants, huge cash deposits during demonetisation period, accommodation entries from shell companies and undisclosed investment in properties, among others". "Incriminating documents and electronic data seized during the search show that substantial amount of illegal gratification was being paid to public servants and others every month," it said.
The CBDT frames policy for the I-T Department. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, saying the raids were "politically motivated" and termed the action as an affront to the idea of cooperative federalism. The board said that the searches are still on and "a number of prohibitory orders have been placed, including on several bank lockers".
It added that "details of daily unaccounted sales, bank accounts opened in the names of employees having transactions worth crores and an unaccounted bank account have been found" during the raids. Details of benami vehicles, hawala transfers, transfer to Kolkata-based companies and creation of shell companies with huge land bank have also been found and seized, it claimed.
The statement said some "substantial amount of cash" has also been seized by the tax sleuths. "The total unaccounted transactions unearthed till date are over Rs 150 crore and the figure is likely to substantially increase after the seized evidences and leads found during the search are further scrutinised and investigated."
Based on evidences found during the searches, a few other premises were also covered in consequential actions, it added. Sources had earlier said the premises linked to A K Tuteja, joint secretary in the state commerce and industry department, retired IAS officer and former chief secretary of the state Vivek Dhand and Raipur Mayor Ezaj Dhebar were covered.
Dhand is also the chairman of Chhattisgarh Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA). Some locations linked to liquor barons Anwar Dhebar (Dhebar's brother) and Pappu Bhatia were also searched, they had said. The Congress, during a press conference held in Delhi on Sunday, had said the "cloak-and-dagger" I-T raids showed that the Centre was "scared" after the state government launched a probe into alleged corruption under the previous BJP government.
The party also claimed that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), a central force, was being used for "political vendetta" like other investigative agencies during the searches.