Suspect cash: I-T department warns violators will face max seven year jail term2 min read . Updated: 21 Nov 2016, 01:31 AM IST
Tax department has detected over Rs200 crore in undisclosed income after it conducted over 80 surveys and about 30 searches in cases of suspicious usage of the scrapped currency
New Delhi: Warning people against depositing their unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account, the income tax (I-T) department has decided to slap charges under the newly enforced Benami Transactions Act against violators, which carries a penalty, prosecution and rigorous jail term of a maximum seven years.
In a related development, people familiar with the matter said that the department has detected over Rs200 crore in undisclosed income after it conducted over 80 surveys and about 30 searches in cases of suspicious usage of the scrapped currency.
About Rs50 crore has also been seized in these operations since 8 November, they said, across various states. The people said the taxman has initiated a country-wide operation to identify suspect bank accounts where huge cash deposits have been made post 8 November, when the government demonetised the Rs500 and Rs1000 currency notes. Such instances where the suspicion is found to be true will be prosecuted under the Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, applicable on both movable and immovable property, that has been enforced from 1 November this year.
They said the act empowers the taxman to confiscate and prosecute both the depositor and the person whose illegal money he or she has “adjusted" in their account. “The central board of direct taxes (CBDT) has asked the I-T department to closely monitor all such transactions where people are using bank accounts of other persons for hiding and converting into white their black money using the old currency notes of Rs500 and Rs1000. Already some instances have been reported in this regard and the department is set to issue notices under the Benami Act," the people said.
Primarily, they said, the notices will be issued in cases of huge cash deposits beyond the threshold of Rs2.5 lakh but in cases where a suspicious report is received from the bank or the financial intelligence unit below this threshold will also be investigated. “Such an arrangement where a person deposits old currency of Rs500 and Rs1000 in the bank account of another person with an understanding that the account holder shall return his money in new currency, the transaction shall be regarded as Benami Transaction under the said act. “The person who deposits old currency in the bank account shall be treated as beneficial owner and the person in whose bank account the old currency has been deposited shall be categorized under this law as a benamidar," a senior official explained.
The Benami act, the official said, provides that the benamidar, the beneficial owner and any other person who abets or induces the Benami transaction, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a period ranging from one-seven years. “The benami amount in the bank account deposited post-demonetisation will be seized and confiscated and the accused will also be liable to fine which extends upto 25% of the fair market value of the benami property," the official said.
The I-T department has stepped up its action to check black money transactions, money laundering and tax evasion in the wake of the demonetisation and has issued hundreds of notices of enquiry to charitable and religious trusts to show their account balances and to those who have deposited huge cash in their bank accounts.