Raninder Singh, the son of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, failed to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday.
He took exemption on medical grounds.
The ED had summoned Raninder in connection with its probe against him for alleged foreign exchange management act (Fema) violations and holding of untaxed foreign assets.
In the summons issued by ED assistant director Ajai Singh 10 days ago, Raninder was asked to appear before the agency to explain the alleged movement of funds to Switzerland and the creation of a trust and a few subsidiaries in the tax haven of British Virgin Islands.
LIED UNDER OATH: I-T DEPT
The ED initiated action following a complaint by the income tax department which claims that Raninder lied under oath to the department about trusts allegedly owned by him in British Virgin Islands.
The income tax department had found that Raninder was the settler (donor) of the Jacaranda Trust, the UK, and owner of business entities Mulwala Holdings Limited, Limerlock International Limited, Chillingham Holdings Limited and Allworth Venture Holdings Limited.
The authorities in the British Virgin Islands informed the department that the business entities were holding substantial financial assets, including bank accounts in HSBC, Geneva, and properties in the UK and Dubai.
The authorities provided the I-T department with a copy of the trust deed which showed that the settlement was made on July 22, 2005, in British Virgin Islands between Raninder and HSBC Trust Company Limited. Raninder acted as a trustee.
NOTHING TO HIDE: RANINDER
Soon after the summons were issued, Raninder said that he had nothing to hide and was willing to cooperate on the issue. “This was already being looked into by the income tax authorities. We have nothing to hide and we will fully cooperate with the enforcement directorate,” he said.
In March, Ludhiana’s chief judicial magistrate Ranjeev Kumar had issued a notice to Raninder for lying to the income tax department about his foreign bank accounts. Acting on a criminal complaint by income tax deputy director (investigation) Amit Dua against Raninder for giving false information, the Ludhiana court asked him to file a reply on July 26, the next date of hearing.
The income tax department had found that the former chief minister’s son was a direct beneficiary of assets maintained and controlled through foreign business entities.
When the department confronted Raninder with this information last year, he denied having any foreign bank accounts. Later, the department filed a complaint against Raninder under Sections 181 (false statement on oath) and 177 (furnishing false information) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 277 (false statement in verification) of the Income Tax Act.
AAP TURNS UP THE HEAT
The Aam Aadmi Party has been gunning for Capt Amarinder Singh over this issue. AAP MP Bhagwant Mann said that Amarinder had no moral authority to continue in politics after the ED summons to Raninder in the case in which he (Amarinder) had also been named.
In March, the AAP had made revelations about Amarinder’s family’s Swiss bank accounts in which lakhs of dollars were transferred when the latter was chief minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007. Mann said the documents procured by AAP indicated that Raninder and Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur, who was also the Patiala MLA, had opened bank accounts in Switzerland to transfer money.