The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested five persons – including three Income Tax (IT) officials - for cheating the Income Tax department of Rs 14 crore through fake tax refunds, the agency said.
A senior CBI officer said that Dilip Vyas, a chartered accountant was arrested on Friday while Income Tax inspector Pramod Prabhakar, Senior Tax Assistant Rajesh Pillay, tax assistant Raju Nagpure and estate agent Manoj Sangtiyani were arrested on Sunday for their alleged involvement in the fraud. Sangtiyani is a part time television actor.
Joint Director (CBI), Western Region, Rishiraj Singh, said on Sunday that Tax Assistant Shrikant, Vyas’ partner Mohan Ghadge and their assistant Sandeep Roy are still wanted in the case. Another Tax Assistant, Ninad Dalvi has been questioned in the case, he said.
Singh said that Vyas and his accomplices procured PAN details of more than 100 people for the fraud, which was being carried out for nine months. The IT officials stole the password of an assessing officer to transfer the money, said Singh.
The CBI has investigated 23 such cases (PAN card holders) and registered a fraud case of around Rs 3 crore. The accused hacked into the Income Tax Department’s electronic clearing system (ECS) and transferred more than Rs 14 crore worth tax refunds to various bank accounts. Although the incident occurred in December, the tax authorities learnt about it only in January after which an inquiry was initiated. The tax department has managed to prevent at least Rs 8 crore from getting into the fraudster’s hands.
An Additional Commissioner of Income Tax posted at Bandra-Kurla Complex first noticed the fraud. He found that some part of the refunds for assessments falling under him was missing from the system. The department trailed the money to various bank accounts only to find that it had already been withdrawn.
The fraudsters had transferred tax refunds into more than 20 bank accounts. They used 30 to 40 banking channels (transferring money from one account to another before withdrawing it) to avoid getting caught. The CBI is investigating if these account holders were also involved in the crime.
The fraudsters entered bogus returns using Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) and processed the returns showing refund claims. The refund amount was then transferred to bank accounts, which were specially opened for this purpose.