Gold and jewellery worth Rs 100 crore were sold in four cities of Madhya Pradesh within hours of the government recalling high-value banknotes with almost the entire business done under fictitious names, the income tax department has estimated.
According to the estimate, 90% of the sale was reported from Bhopal and Indore.
Out of the 1,000-odd people, who made the purchase to convert the recalled banknotes into liquid asset, up to 95% are fictitious, whose tracking will be a cumbersome task for income tax authorities.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 announced that 500 and 1,000 rupee bills would cease to be legal tender from November 9 in a crackdown on corruption, undeclared wealth and tax evasion.
On Tuesday afternoon, the I-T department launched surveys at 16 jewellery showrooms in Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Ratlam. The survey is still underway in 12 showrooms.
During survey, IT sleuths gathered critical evidence that two Bhopal-based jewelers had helped black money hoarders to convert scrapped currency into liquid assets.
It prompted them to launch search at the four houses of the two businessmen on Wednesday.
Under survey, tax sleuths just inspect and verify records at business premises of a trader. On gathering critical evidence from survey about anomalies, a proper search of residential and business premises is done by taxmen.
The search is going on in their houses in Awadhpuri, Old Bhopal, Arera Colony and Shyamla Hills of the state capital till filing of this report.
The search has so far led to several incriminating documents, which could help in tracking those who converted the recalled currency into gold and jewellery, an I-T department official said.
Investigation has revealed that the two jewelers had sold jewellery worth around Rs 35 crores on November 8.
A senior I-T department official in Bhopal told Hindustan Times that surveys at other showrooms was likely to be completed by Saturday while surveys at two showrooms of a jewellery brand in Bhopal’s DB Mall and Malviya Nagar hasn’t revealed any major anomaly.
The I-T department has also taken serious note of CCTV cameras of the 16 surveyed showrooms being non-functional on that night.
The official said this aspect would be taken into account and response sought from jewelers while making assessment of their one night income.