Jharkhand man chased for Rs 3.5cr GST fraud turns out to be a daily wage worker
A daily wage labourer earning Rs 198 per day under the rural jobs guarantee scheme or MGNREGS was in shock when a police team reached his thatched house in Raipahari village under Mosaboni block of East Singhbhum district in Jharkhand on Thursday to arrest him for alleged non-payment of Rs 3.50 crore in goods and services tax (GST).
The police team from Mosaboni was equally shocked to see that the accused named in the multi-crore tax evasion case was actually living hand-to-mouth. 48-year-old Ladun Murmu, named in the official records as the managing director (MD) of MS Steel, has been charged with GST evasion of Rs 3.50 crore over transactions of Rs 5.58 crore, according to the FIR lodged by the Jharkhand state GST department.
“The police team had gone to arrest the MD of a fake company MS Steel, Ladun Murmu, on the basis of an FIR lodged by the GST department for non-payment of GST even after a notice was served on the firm in this regard last year. The team found Ladun to be a poor daily-wage worker under MGNREGA and realised that the conmen set up a fake company in his name using his duplicate PAN and Aadhar cards. A special police team has been asked to do a detailed investigation into the case,” said Dr M Tamil Vanan, Jamshedpur senior superintendent of police (SSP).
Ladun was released late last evening from police detention after strong protests by the villagers. Ladun clarified that he had no clue how was he made the MD of a company when his MGNREGA enlisting earned him no more than Rs 198 a day, making it an everyday struggle to make both ends meet.
“My nephew Baila Murmu had taken my cooperative bank passbook, PAN and Aadhar cards in 2018 on the pretext that after submission of these, I will receive Rs 2000 per month from the government in my bank account. Baila handed over the documents to his son-in-law Sunaram Hembram, a resident of Galudih Dewli. Sunram, in turn, handed my documents to Sushant Kumar Samanto who lives in Sonari, Jamshedpur. I have no idea what happened thereafter and no money came to my bank account either,” said Ladun.
He added that commercial tax officials had visited his house in September last year and handed him a notice for payment of Rs 3.50 crore as GST due to him. As he couldn’t pay anything, a case was lodged against him at Mosaboni PS under section 70 of GST Act and IPC.
“My statements were also recorded in Jamshedpur GST court where I was asked seven questions about the company. I had denied forming any company or any knowledge of any transactions. I am a poor daily wage worker, where would I get so much money. I can’t even dream of any such company, please forgive me Sarkar. My wife died last year and I am struggling to survive with my son,” said Ladun.
As per the FIR lodged by the state tax officer (STO) Santosh Kumar after the expiry of GST payment notice, MS Steel had sold steel worth Rs 5.58 crore to Trinetra Traders, Omkar Traders Trinath Enterprises, Alam Metal Stores, Sidhuja Steel and Subhadra through 87 E-way bill in November-December 2018-19 fiscal. The state GST department is now under fire for allotting GST registration number (No-20AWVPM0673QIZV) to MS Steel on the basis of Ladun Mumru’s PAN and Aadhaar numbers, allegedly without verification.
Jamshedpur divisional joint commissioner of state GST department, Sanjay Kumar Prasad said they have already provided the secret code number of the laptop/computer and server through which the GST registration application and accompanying PAN and Aadhaar details were uploaded for MS Steel. “We are helping the police to arrest the real culprits,” said Prasad.
“Such GST frauds were rampant across India earlier. But now some checks and balances have been in place after the Government of India made PAN and Aadhaar mandatory for GST registration. Yet, fraudsters have still been registering fake companies by uploading fake or duplicate scanned copies of PAN and Aadhaar cards. Another such case was cracked by the police last month involving Rs 1 crore GST evasion. Half a dozen such GST fraud cases are under probe in Jamshedpur division,” added Prasad.