Vijayawada: The recent raids by the Income-Tax department on the former personal secretary of former chief minister and TD chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, and three prominent infrastructure companies considered close to the leader, revealed siphoning of funds to the tune of least Rs 2,000 crore. This amount is only a preliminary estimate and further investigations might reveal a higher fraud amount, I-T officials said.
The Income-Tax department on Thursday issued an official press release stating that “search operations carried out on close associates (of three infra companies), including a former personal secretary of a prominent person (read Mr Chandrababu Naidu, as searches were conducted at the premises of his ex-PS) and incriminating evidence was seized”.
The TD supremo, as a senior leader pointed out, was perplexed over the developments. One of the three firms raided belonged to Kadapa TD leader Srinivas Reddy’s R.K. Infra Corp. A close associate of Nara Lokesh, Mr Naidu’s son and TD party general secretary, was also raided. Sources in I-T department said that exchange of information between this associate and several top party leaders gave crucial leads to the I-T department.
“The I-T department says irregularities were found in infra companies. Government can take any action,” Mr Nara Lokesh told Deccan Chronicle.
Referring to the involvement of a former PS of the former CM, Mr Lokesh said that he was clueless on how a former PS was in possession of records of three large infra companies. “We did nothing wrong. We will wait and watch,” he said.
Explaining the modus operandi of the raids and subsequent investigations, Surabhi Ahluwalia, I-T commissioner, said that the three companies had indulged in multiple transactions by sub-contracting works to bogus and non-existent companies. These transactions were layered through multiple entities, with the last in the chain being small entities, with a turnover of less than `2 crore to avoid maintenance of books of accounts and tax audits, Ms Ahluwalia said.
Many of these companies weren’t found in the addresses mentioned in records or were found to be shell firms, she said.
25 bank lockers restrained, says I-T
Several sub-contractors were controlled by the principal contractor, on whose IP address the re-runs of sub contractors were found.
The I-T raids led to the busting of a major racket of cash generation through bogus sub contractors, over-invoicing and claiming of bogus bills. The searches resulted in unearthing unaccounted cash of `85 lakh and jewellery worth `71 lakh. More than 25 bank lockers were restrained, the IT department said.
The FDI receipts received in group companies of one of the three firms raided are suspected to be round tripping of unaccounted funds. The department also chanced upon emails and WhatsApp messages, besides incriminating records and papers which revealed unexplained foreign transactions.