The income tax department, probing a suspected money-laundering racket across the country, has seized documents relating to several accounts opened since 2009 at an Axis Bank branch in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh.
A team of income tax sleuths from Jabalpur seized the documents from the branch during a three-day survey that ended on Thursday, department sources in Bhopal said on Friday.
The seizure will boost investigations, which started with an I-T department search at towns, such as Satna, Jabalpur and Katni, in March this year.
“Investigations till now have established that the suspected money-laundering racket, involving over 300 businessmen from Madhya Pradesh and outside, is at least worth ₹500 crore,” said a senior I-T department official in Bhopal.
The official said Katni was the hub of the suspected money-laundering racket that benefited businessmen from Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur, and other parts of the state.
Around 100 accounts opened in banks (particularly the Axis Bank at Katni) since 2009 in the name of bogus firms, below poverty line card holders and other fictitious entities have been used to park black money.
The Katni police have registered criminal cases in the matter. Manvendra Mistry who with aide Ravi Prajapti played a key role in opening the accounts is absconding, police sources in Katni told HT.
Three businessmen -- Naresh Poddar, Naresh Barman and Manish Saraogi -- were found to be behind the suspected money-laundering racket, but more skeletons are likely to tumble out of the closet following seizure of the documents from the Katni Axis Bank branch, the I-T department official added.
The Hindustan Times had in August and September exclusively reported about the possibility of a big money-laundering racket, which used documents of BPL card holders and bogus companies to open accounts in banks in Katni, a business centre owing to coal and mineral operations, for parking black money.