The income tax department has stumbled across what it thinks was the first benami transaction on November 8, mere hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes had been demonetised.
The man suspected for the same is a Bhopal-based taxi driver, who purchased gold jewellery worth Rs 38 lakh using old currency. Till a few years ago, he was the staff driver for vehicles of a premier export-oriented industrial undertaking in Bhopal and despite no longer being in job with the premier industrial house, he still resides in the staff quarters there.
The taxi driver has claimed before the I-T sleuths that the money which he used to buy the jewellery had been pooled together by him to build a temple. However, he has been unable to give satisfactory answers about where the temple was to be built, from whom the token collections were generated and why the jewellery was purchased on the night of November 8.
According to key IT department sources in Bhopal, the leads to the benami transaction were generated during the recent survey by department sleuths at the showroom of a premier jewellery brand located in Bhopal’s main commercial hub.
The IT sleuths searched the taxi-driver’s house on Tuesday and recovered jewellery worth Rs 20 lakh. However, when valued by a registered valuer, the ornaments were found to be worth a maximum of Rs 10 lakh, suggesting the over-invoicing of the sale by the showroom to help park black money.
The search also revealed that remaining Rs 18 lakh jewellery was recently sold by the taxi driver for just Rs 9 lakh to another premier jeweller.
Acting swiftly in the matter, the concerned bank account of the taxi driver in a private bank at Bhopal has been freezed.
Investigators confided to Hindustan Times that the probe has revealed a strong possibility that the taxi driver was used by rich and influential (possibly those associated with his ex-employer) people to convert black money into liquid assets.
Search at premises of Indore doctor couple continues
The search at three premises of an Indore doctor couple that started on Tuesday, continued on Wednesday. The raided premises include a big private hospital owned by the couple in Palasia area and residential premises in Pardeshipura area, a senior I-T department official said.
According to a senior I-T department official in Bhopal, the search has led to several incriminating documents, three bank accounts containing over Rs 3 crores and three bank lockers. Jewellery worth over Rs 50 lakh has also been found during the raid at one of the premises.
The searches were prompted by specific inputs about crores of rupees being parked in the accounts of the doctor couple.
Meanwhile, the searches that were recently carried out at five premises of a prominent jeweller and a sugar trader have led to the two businessmen surrendering Rs 4 crore.