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I-T department attaches benami assets worth over Rs 3500 crore in raids

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

As part of its crackdown against black money, the Finance Ministry on Thursday said the Income Tax Department has attached 900 benami properties, including flats, shops, jewellery and vehicles worth more than Rs 3,500 crore under the ‘Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act’, which came into force from 1 November, 2016.

In five cases, the provisional attachments of benami properties, valued at more than Rs 150 crore each, have been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority. In one such case, it was established that a real estate company had acquired about 50 acres land valued at over Rs 110 crore using names of persons of no means. This was corroborated from the sellers of the land as well as brokers involved. In another case, after demonetisation, two assesses were found depositing demonetised currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees and associates, the Finance Ministry said. The total amount attempted to be remitted to the beneficial owners was about Rs 39 crore. In yet another case, cash amount of Rs 1.11 crore was intercepted from a vehicle with a person who denied ownership of the cash. Subsequently, no one claimed ownership of the cash and it was held to be benami property by the adjudicating authority.

The I-T Department has opened 24 units to implement the Benami Act and the number will double in the next six months. According to senior government officials, the department is closely watching high-value transactions, suspicious transactions and the purchase of property within three months from the date of demonetisation. They are also looking at cases where income saw unreasonable hike. As a part of this move, the income tax department on Wednesday warned people to “keep away” from benami transactions, cautioning that violations under the newly enacted law would invite criminal prosecution and RI up to seven years.