Necessity is the mother of invention, so goes the adage. But for those trying to park their black money at safe places, it seems excess is the mother of invention.
The regional income tax (I-T) department has in the past ten days dug its fangs into illegal wealth of over 15 establishments and individuals spread across Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh and seized more than Rs 50 crore of unaccounted cash in the form of demonetised currency. Of this, Rs 6 crore has been seized at nakas on the roads when the currency was being moved.
While panic drove many to do the obvious and getting easily and quickly caught, others devised rather innovative ways to park their black moolah.
GOING TO LADAKH
An interesting method uncovered by the department is of a Punjab resident going all the way to Leh (Ladakh) in Jammu and Kashmir to park his unaccounted cash. He opened 50 bogus accounts in a bank using a name of a tribal caste which is exempted from paying income tax!
A housing baron of Zirakpur who was allegedly fudging his account books following the demonetisation announcement to show advance payment of sale of his unconstructed plots was raided by the I-T officials this week. “The sale deeds were done on older stamp papers. A single real estate developer could account for over `10 crore of unaccounted cash,” the official said.
‘QUEUE UP FOR ME’
A Gurgaon-based company forced hundreds of its workers to queue up outside banks to exchange scrapped notes, just to save their jobs. “In a single day, he managed to get more than Rs 10-lakh old currency exchanged,” added the official.
IN SHELL COMPANIES
A host of hawala operators are parking funds in shell companies, non-trading firms used as a front for carrying illegal business among other things, for their clients at 20% commission. Several hawala operators operating from Ludhiana and Chan-digarh are under the scanner.
JAN DHAN FLOOD
The regional I-T department has information of hundreds of zero-balance Jan Dhan accounts being flooded with cash in the past ten days. “These accounts have come in handy now for those trying to convert their black money into white. Bank officials are being taken into confidence by their well-healed clients to make it happen” an IT official said.
GOD NOT HELPING
Several people have “donated” huge amounts to religious trusts to get it back in new currency after things cool down. “We have information of some temples showing sudden spurt in donations by crores. After December 31, we will seek special permission from the government to scrutinise accounts of these trusts and donors,” said the official.
Within hours of demonetisation on November 8, the affluent class flocked to jewellers, buying gold at almost double the rates. The jewellers, say I-T sources, showed some part in the cash book justifying the price to include exorbitant “making charges”. In the next two days, the daily sale of these jewellers swelled multiple times.The jewellers also made sure that the CCTV cameras inside and outside their shops were shut off during such transactions.
LIQUIDITY FOR LIQUOR
There were others who thought of splurging on liquor. In Gurgaon, the tax personnel seized around `8 crore from a single vendor who had sold in advance liquor quota of several years to his customers.
“The liquor baron was faking sales in his accounts books to factor in his hoarded cash. Also, he was giving chits to customers taking in their cash as advance for future purchases,” an official said.