The income tax department has seized four tempos carrying a huge amount of cash, diamonds and jewellery, which were on way to Gujarat allegedly as part of legitimate diamond trading process.
I-T officials said they found 102 canvas bags which were being ferried to the Mumbai Central Station by the tempos and were supposed to be loaded on the Gujarat Mail. Stuffed in them were packets containing cash and jewellery, which bore the names and addresses of people in Surat and Ahmedabad.
The National Investigation Agency, which had tipped off the I-T department, had taken the money to be part of a high profile hawala transaction or terror links.
But Swatantra Kumar, director general of income tax, investigation, said it belonged to diamond and bullion traders, who traditionally transport it through angadias, age-old courier service providers.
The I-T authorities suspect that the cash and valuables belong to around 40 angadias. The statements of 22 have been recorded.
Kumar said the cash, which turns out to be unaccounted for, would be seized. The diamonds and jewellery won’t be seized, as “stock in trade” cannot be seized.
“But we would assess the value of the diamonds and jewellery, cross-check it with records maintained by the traders to whom they belong and would penalise them if they are found to be unaccounted for,” said an I-T official requesting anonymity.
Asked why the I-T department took possession of the consignment, as such is the style of functioning of angadias, Kumar said transfer of cash in such a manner could not be legitimate. He said if the traders have to deal in such amounts, they should do it through banks.