Smelling a tax evasion scam to the tune of crores of rupees by big firms involved in forward trading of commodities through the National Spot Exchange, the state excise and taxation department has been keeping watch over such firms.
“It has come to our notice that some of the firms involved in forward trading of commodities are indulging in evasion of value-added tax, all officials of the departments have been instructed to keep strict vigil on such firms,” excise and taxation commissioner, Anurag Verma, told the Hindustan Times.
“Recently, we raided a Kapurthala-based firm, Globe Commodities, and a search of the accounts of the firm pointed to Rs 5.31 crore evasion of VAT,” Verma said, adding that so far, about 10 such firms from Ludhiana have been identified and brought under scanner of the department.
“I have instructed the department to expeditiously assess the quantum of the VAT evasion by the firms involved in forward trading,” he added.
So far, the VAT evasion of about Rs 50-60 crore had been unearthed from the firms in Ludhiana only, Verma revealed, adding that the figure was expected to be manifold after detailed investigation into the transactions made in forward trading.
It is pertinent to mention here that in Punjab only, there is forward trading of commodities to the tune of RS 5,000-5,500 crore and in most cases there is no exchange of goods in physical terms.
The case came to light recently after a Kapurthala-based firm allegedly demanded VAT refund to the tune of nearly Rs 4 crore from the department after producing documents of 'bogus' sale, sources in the taxation department said.
Suspecting foul play, the department verified the records and found that the firm, Globe Commodities, purchased paddy worth Rs 100 crore in the past six months, but not even a single grain of paddy was found in the registered godown of the firm, assistant excise and taxation commissioner, Sarojini Gautam, told HT.
“From the record gathered from Globe Commodities, we came to know the addresses of several other companies, with which transactions worth crores of rupees were made through the Spot Exchange and accordingly action would be taken against these firms too,” she said.
“As far as the Doaba region is concerned, there are very few big firms that are involved in forward trading of commodities, but several such firms in Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib are under scanner of the department,” she added.
The department has identified nearly a dozen such firms, dealing in rice, metal various other commodities and registered in Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur districts and evading tax to the tune of nearly Rs 6 crore, Sharda said.
Meanwhile, sources in the department said the owners of some of the companies involved in forward trading have a well-knit nexus with politicians and big business houses who have registered their firms on fake addresses and have fictitious/sleeping partners just to trick the government.