Do cash payments allegedly made by Ispat Industries to a certain 'VBS' have any link with multi-crore deposits in the bank account of a nondescript LIC agent in Shimla?
Documents reviewed by Hindustan Times show that some of the payments made to 'VBS' between October 2009 and August 2010 coincide with huge deposits in the bank account of Anand Chauhan, an LIC agent-cum-business partner of former minister of steel and now Himachal Congress president Virbhadra Singh.
A document seized during an income tax department search at the offices of Ispat Industries in Delhi on November 30, 2010, suggests Rs. 2.27 crore had been paid to 'VBS' between October 2009 and August 2010.
Ispat documents show 'VBS' was paid Rs. 50 lakh on December 23, 2009, and a week later Chauhan got two cash deposits of Rs. 25 lakh each. On January 10, 2010, Rs. 50 lakh was withdrawn from Chauhan's account to pay insurance premium. In another instance, on April 21, 2010, Rs. 27 lakh was paid to 'VBS'. On May 29, 30 and 31, 2010, Chauhan got Rs. 1 crore in three instalments and on June 1, 2010, the money was withdrawn in favour of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).
Quizzed about the payoffs, his single-premium, megabuck LIC policies and his revised income-tax returns for 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 that show a quantum jump in his agricultural income, Singh, who has denied being the 'VBS', charged HT with asking uncomfortable questions. "This is a BJP-engineered story."
According to sources, assessment of Singh's revised I-T returns is yet to be completed.
Documents show that Singh entered into two separate agreements within two days in June 2008 for managing his orchard in Rampur Bushahr -- one with Chauhan and the other one with one Bishambhar Das.
On Monday, Chauhan told HT over phone: "Yes, Virbhadra Singh is my client whose money I invested in single-premium LIC policies." He also accepted that his premises were searched by the income tax department.
Ispat's erstwhile promoter Pramod Kumar Mittal has denied making any payments to anybody.