23 January, Bengaluru
Raids by the Income-Tax officials resulted in a Karnataka Minister and the ruling Congress women’s wing President admitting to Rs 162.06-crore undisclosed income and unexplained cash of Rs 41 lakh and 12.8kg gold and jewellery after the November 8 note ban, said an Income-Tax official on Monday.
The I-T officials raided the houses of Karnataka Small-Scale Industries Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi at Gokak in Belagavi district and the home-office of Congress women’s wing President Laxmi Hebbalkar at Belagavi and Bengaluru on January 19 following discrepancies in their tax returns filed after the demonetisation.
Belagavi in the state’s northwest region is 500 km from Bengaluru.
“The searches led to admission of tax evasion and undisclosed income of Rs 162.06 crore and unexplained cash of Rs 41 lakh and 12.8 kg gold and jewellery, which were seized, said I-T Department spokesman Alex Mathew without naming the minister and the party’s office-bearer in a statement here.
The department, however, did not give the break-up of the undisclosed income of Jarkiholi and Hebbalkar and how much of the unaccounted cash belongs to them.
Observing that one of the persons (Jarkiholi) holds an important post in the state government and the other (Hebbalkar) is an office-bearer of a political party, the statement said both were engaged in production of sugar.
“Gathered intelligence revealed that both the persons followed similar modus operandi for tax evasion. Common entry of providers/facilitators was involved,” asserted Mathew.
Owing to the political exposure of both the business concerns, the search was carried keeping in view the political and law and order situation.
“The search also led to evidence of tax evasion by both the persons. Verification of entry providers, bank enquiries and surveys at cooperative societies confirmed that huge unexplained cash deposits were made in bank accounts of their family members and associates while benami names in primary cooperative societies were transferred to business entities producing sugar,” noted the statement.
The raids revealed that non-existent persons were made shareholders and investors in one of the sugar firms. Evidence of creation of bogus assets and siphoning off money from the company through various concerns engaged in turnkey projects for setting up sugar factories were also gathered.
“Many persons who had large incomes and investments were found to be not filing tax returns. Investigation is still in progress,” added the statement.
The tax officials also raided the house of the minister’s brother Lakhan Jariholi at Gokak.