By Express News Service

BENGALURU:  The Income Tax Department has carried out search and seizure operations on 37 premises spread across multiple cities, including Mumbai, Pune, Noida and Bengaluru.

“The simultaneous searches were conducted on September 30 on groups/individuals involved in varied businesses such as cable manufacturing, real estate, textile, printing machinery, hotels, logistics etc,” stated an official release from the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

“During the search operations, several incriminating documents, loose sheets, diaries, emails and other digital evidence have been unearthed, which indicate ownership of a large number of foreign bank accounts and immovable properties, unreported to the I-T Department,” added the release.

“These groups/individuals utilised the services of a Dubai-based financial service provider to create a dubious and complex web of foreign companies and trusts based in tax havens such as Mauritius, United Arab Emirates (UAE), British Virgin Islands (BVI), Gibraltar etc. to hold their unaccounted assets,” the MoF added.

“The credits in the bank accounts of these groups and individuals maintained by the Dubai-based financial service provider exceed $100 million (about Rs 750 crore) accumulated over a decade and were found to be parked in bank accounts in Switzerland, UAE, Malaysia and several other countries. Evidence gathered during the search operation reveals that the undisclosed funds parked abroad have been used by these groups for acquiring immovable properties in several countries such as the UK, Portugal, UAE etc, in the name of defunct companies incorporated abroad, with funds layered through foreign bank accounts, for meeting the personal expenses of the promoters and their family members abroad and routing back funds in their Indian entities,” the official statement added.

The MoF further stated, “Evidence related to bogus payments to suppliers for generating cash, cash expenditure, hawala transactions, over-invoicing has also been gathered. Unaccounted cash and jewellery to the tune of over Rs 2 crore have been seized from the residential and business premises. More than 50 bank lockers have been kept under restraint.”