The Income Tax Department Monday said it detected a “widespread and well-organised” racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about Rs 281 crore during raids against close aides of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and others.
It said the sleuths have recovered Rs 14.6 crore of “unaccounted” cash and seized diaries and computer files of suspect payments made between Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.
However, according to The Indian Express, BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya tweeted about the amount of money detected hours before the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which frames policy for the I-T Department, issued a statement on the raid and revealed the figure.
According to the daily, at 10:53 am on Monday, Vijayvargiya tweeted, “Madhya Pradesh mein tabaadla express patri sey utarney key karan durghatnagrasth. Jaan ka koi nuksaan nahi lekin 281 crore key maal key nuksaan ka anumaan (The Transfer Express in Madhya Pradesh has derailed. No loss of life, but loss of 281 crore estimated).”
The tweet has since been deleted.
Nath’s aide pointed to the tweet and alleged the searches were carried out at BJP’s insistence and were “aimed at maligning the image of the Congress during elections”.
Narender Saluja, Nath’s media coordinator, told Express, “How could the BJP leader come to know of the figure in the morning? What kind of collusion is this?”.
The CBDT said the department had detected a trail of Rs 20 crore suspect cash allegedly being moved to the “headquarters of a major political party in Delhi” from the house of an important person who lives on Tughlaq Road, home to many VIPs.
“Rs 14.6 crore of unaccounted cash has been found so far, besides 252 bottles of liquor, few arms and tiger hide-skins,” the CBDT said in a statement issued late night.
“Searches in Madhya Pradesh have detected widespread and well-organised racket of collection of unaccounted cash of about Rs 281 crore through various persons in different walks of life, including business, politics and public service.
“A part of the cash was also transferred to the headquarter of a major political party in Delhi, including about Rs 20 crore, which was moved through hawala recently to the headquarter of the political party from the residence of a senior functionary at Tughlak Road, New Delhi,” the CBDT said.
The statement added that records of collection and disbursement of cash “in the form of hand-written diaries, computer files and excel sheets were found and seized and it corroborates the above findings”.
It added that the searches in Delhi in the group of a close relative of the senior functionary have further led to the seizure of “incriminating evidence, including cash book recording unaccounted transactions of Rs 230 crore, siphoning off money through bogus billing of more than Rs 242 crore and evidence of more than 80 companies in tax havens.”
A preliminary report of the raids has been shared by the department with the CBDT and the Election Commission in Delhi.
Those searched included Nath’s former Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Pravin Kakkar, former adviser Rajendra Miglani, Ashwani Sharma, Paras Mal Lodha and executives linked to his brother-in-law’s firm Moser Bayer and a company of his nephew Ratul Puri. Nath had reacted late Sunday to the development.
“The situation about the I-T raids is not clear yet. It would be appropriate to speak on this after the situation is clear. But the entire country knows how the constitutional institutions were used and against whom they were used during the past five years,” he had said.
“These institutions were used to scare people. When they do not have anything to say on development and their work, they used these kind of tactics against their opponents,” the CM’s statement had said.
(With PTI inputs)