The income tax department, which had kept a close watch on pulse traders and their involvement in recent price speculation, on Thursday raided 22 offices, including those in Delhi, Mumbai, Akola, Baroda and Indore, and found incriminating documents that points towards cartelisation of pulses and a tax evasion to the tune of Rs 700 crore.
IT officials also informed the Enforcement Directorate and Delhi Police for further action under the Essential Commodities Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, besides other penal provisions. “These trading and importing companies, especially some MNCs, are indulging in cartelisation of pulses, which has led to an artificial escalation of their prices in the retail market. The documents collected from several offices hint at price manipulation on commodity exchange and the collection of kickback from dal mills,” said a source in the IT department.
The raids wanted to create panic among hoarders and push them into releasing their stocks. “This would correct the price of essential commodities. When elections are on, the government cannot afford to sit idle,” said the source.
Besides that, the modus operandi of tax evasion for these companies was found to be their benami concerns, bogus loss from commodity trading, and re-invoicing through overseas concerns. “While the documents show substantial income, these companies claimed losses through various bogus means to cover up their active involvement in pulse cartelisation,” said the officer.
Apart from the increasing prices of essential commodities, what prompted IT officials into action was a recent report from the Intelligence Bureau, which said that of the 151,000 tonnes of pulses imported in January this year, 63,000 tonnes were deliberately left at the port. “The traders were aware that pulse crops would be harvested in March-April and if these 63,000 tonnes were kept away from the market, it would automatically hit supply in the domestic market and escalate prices,” said the report.