I-T dept moves to act against Ratul Puri’s firm in tax case

The income tax (I-T) department has sufficient evidence to prosecute a Delhi-based power company promoted by Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, for tax evasion and money laundering to the tune of Rs. 1,350 crore, two government officials with direct knowledge of the matter said.

“The assessment order will be issued and prosecution [case] will be filed in two-three months,” one of the officials said on condition of anonymity.

In I-T raids in April, tax officials found several documents and diary and laptop entries that claim payments were made to various Congress leaders, the officials said. HT has reviewed these documents and entries.

The diary/laptop entries claim that around 11 Lok Sabha candidates, including the Congress’s Bhopal candidate Digvijay Singh, received ₹3.2 crore, while ₹4.4 crore was spent by 64 MLAs towards “Lok Sabha elections”. According to the entries, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala was among the beneficiaries.

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HT could not independently corroborate these entries.

“Animosity & a desire to seek revenge through falsely dragging me by Modi Govt [government] & its agencies is natural. I neither know Mr. Puri nor his firm. As I have no association of any nature, any insinuation is purely mischievous and is being planted in your newspaper to malign,” Surjewala said in a text message.

Digvijay Singh, who lost the Bhopal election, said, “I have no clue as to what you are saying. I have not been given any notice,”.

“We do not comment on rumours or speculation of any kind including political. Our Group neither has any connection with Congress party nor any business association with Mr Digvijay Singh and Mr Randeep Surjewala,” Puri’s office said in a statement.

On May 23, PTI reported that the I-T department had detected tax evasion worth overRs1,350 crore in search and seizure operations conducted against Hindustan Powerprojects, a company run by Puri.

According to the I-T department, the search and seizure action was initiated by the Delhi unit of the Directorate General of Income-tax (Investigation) on April 7, 2019 across several locations – the National Capital Region centred on Delhi, Bhopal, Indore and Goa based on “credible information” of large-scale collection, possession and movement of unaccounted assets.

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As reported in Hindustan Times on April 9, 2019, Kamal Nath alleged that raids by the I-T department raids against several of his close aides were politically motivated. Those raided were Ratul Puri,the officer on special duty (OSD) to Jamal Nath, Praveen Kakkar, and a close associate, RK Miglani.

“They (raids) are politically motivated. They won’t be successful,” Kamal Nath was quoted as saying by ANI in Chhindwara.

According to the I-T department, “some of the significant transactions detected during the search operation” included accommodation entries of Rs 370 crore, bogus billing of Rs 330 crore, unaccounted transactions of Rs 240 crore, bogus loans ofRs 30 crore, over-invoicing of imports and round tripping of Rs 252 crore and sums spent on unaccounted foreign investments.

“Inquiries reveal that the group used the services of a Dubai based operator to park unaccounted foreign remittances in overseas jurisdictions. Out of such remittances, approximately Rs 27 crore was paid towards credit card expenses andRs72 crore for purchase of a property abroad,” a statement issued by the Central Board of direct Taxes (CBDT) on April 22 said.

CBDT officials said that the raids were conducted at Puri’s firm on April 7.

They were an outcome of investigations by the Enforcement Directorate, which investigates suspected foreign exchange rule violations and money laundering and also reports to the finance ministry.

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A day after the raids, CBDT said, “Searches in Madhya Pradesh have detected wide spread and well-organized racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about Rs 281 cr through various persons in different walks of life including business, politics and public service. A part of the cash was also transferred to the headquarter of a major political party in Delhi including about Rs 20 cr which was moved through hawala recently to the headquarter of the political party from the residence of a senior functionary at Tughlak Road, New Delhi,”.

“Meticulous records of collection and disbursement of cash in the form of hand written diaries, computer files and excel sheets found and seized corroborate the above findings,” it said.

I-T officials also found unaccounted cash of Rs14.6 crore, besides 252 bottles of liquor, a few weapons, and tiger skins, it said

First Published:
May 29, 2019 07:38 IST

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