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Google's help sought in Koda investigation

india Updated: Nov 10, 2009 01:08 IST

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The Income Tax (IT) department has sought help from US-based Google and its gmail e-mail service to get details of messages relating to foreign investments as the investigation into charges of money laundering by former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda progresses, an official said on Monday.

"We are taking help of different agencies in the investigation. This is part of it," said Ajit Srivastav, additional director, Investigations in the income tax (IT) department.

According to sources, the IT department seized laptops and hard disks of computers and came to know that mails exchanged related to foreign deals and investments. Though some formatted the hard disks in a bid to destroy the evidence when their establishments or houses were raided, the IT department is trying to recover the files deleted. It has also sought help of forensic laboratories in the investigation.

"We need details of mails exchanged between the people whose places were raided and investments made in or money sent to foreign countries. The print out of mail details will be a great help in the investigation," a source in the IT department said.

An IT department team went to Mumbai Sunday for investigations and to get details of illegal transactions including hawala. Mumbai was the gateway for laundering the Rs 2,500 crore and Rs 550 crore of it was sent to countries like Dubai, Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, Liberia and other places.

IT officials said the investigation of Koda had led to the largest number of raids in a particular case, undertaken by the department. In an almost week-long operation starting October 31, IT and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials conducted raids at 76 places in eight Indian cities. The previous highest was 55.

"This was not a normal raid. This is biggest and largest raid we have conducted. The documents we have seized and information we are getting say that Koda and associates' empire is spread over in many Indian cities and at least six foreign countries," an IT official said.

Meanwhile, a team of IT and ED officials met Koda at his official residence in Ranchi.

Also, Devendra Mukhiya, said to be an associate of Koda and was asked to appear by November 6 before IT officials for questioning, appeared before the IT officials with his tax returns and was interrogated.

Mukhiya was one of the six people against whom a "lookout" notice were issued by the IT after they failed to turn up on Nov 6. The others are Vinod Sinha, Sanjay Kumar Choudhary, Basant Bhattacharya, Manoj Punamiya and Anil Bastawde. An immigration alert has been issued at all airports in India to ensure none of them leaves the country.