Sleuths target accounts used to siphon off money

 The financial intelligence agencies are eyeing dummy bank accounts, numbering more than 50, that were opened to siphon off money overseas over a period of time.

The Income Tax (I-T) department has come across startling information that points out to the fact that in just four bank accounts Rs 300 crore was parked to move cash abroad through circuitous route raising suspicion of money laundering.

The accounts were held in a leading private bank’s branch based in the national capital and the withdrawals are suspected to have taken over a period of more than a year.

The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) is coordinating with the I-T department to ascertain the route monies took place to go abroad and the people behind it.

Interestingly, CEIB sources said that the firms that have these bank accounts are raising eyebrows given the fact that they did not have imports justifying accumulation of large volumes of cash.

There are about 50 dummy accounts where hundreds of crores have been parked to launder illegitimate earnings. The CEIB is also seeking the help of the I-T sleuth to do a complete profiling of account holders to trace where the money is going. One of the reasons for having such fake accounts is to under invoice import consignments, explained another source, as it helps them to dodge paying taxes to the government.

The exercise financial intelligence and investigation agencies are engaged with is in consonance with the emphasis the Finance Ministry is putting on the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to increase the tax catchment area to bolster revenue collection.

Inaugurating the CBEC annual conference in the national capital on Wednesday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had tasked tax sleuths to concentrate on first 100 excise payees and 12 lakh service tax assesses that have stopped filing returns.

As per the Finance Ministry data, top 100 clients account for over 80 per cent of excise duty collection, while service tax collection fetches one-third of the total direct taxes.

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