The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Maharashtra, raided several Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) across the state in connection with the profession tax evasion scam unearthed last month during a raid at the Thane RTO.
Sources in the state ACB told the Hindustan Times on Tuesday that simultaneous raids were carried by district units at RTOs in Chinchwad (Pune), Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Sangli and Kolhapur.
The raids were planned on Monday night and the units swooped down on the offices as soon as they opened offices on Tuesday morning. Around 150 officers and staff of the state ACB took part in the statewide raids. It was co-ordinated at the DG, ACB office in Mumbai.
During the raid, the ACB teams came across many incriminating documents and bogus bank challans, signalling the spread of the profession tax evasion scam across RTOs in the state. The staff at these RTOs was not allowed to move out of the office while the searches were on. While a few of the suspicious documents were taken for scrutiny, many were sealed in the cupboards at these offices, to be opened for scrutiny later.
On October 22, the ACB raided the Thane RTO following complaints of professional tax evasion. Following a government order four years ago, RTOs had been authorised to collect profession tax from owners of commercial vehicles. Earlier, the tax was paid at the sales tax office.
However, RTO officials, in collusion with private agents and transporters were duping the government by preparing bogus bank challans and withholding deposits at the transport commissioner’s office. During the raid, the ACB stumbled upon Rs 10 lakh unaccounted for cash. The volume of the scam is feared to be over Rs 400 crore in Thane RTO alone. The ACB was tipped off about similar scandals at RTOs across the state and had hence planned the raids.
Meanwhile, the ACB has sought help from a 10-member team from the sales tax office to scrutinise the documents seized from Thane RTO. Officers from the RTO (not under the scanner) have also been called to ascertain the magnitude of the scam.