The Income Tax Department on Tuesday conducted searches at 10 premises in Kashmir Valley and other places on a business group promoted by a senior Srinagar municipal corporation functionary, days after the state anti-corruption bureau acted against J&K Bank on charges of alleged irregularities.
Tax sleuths raided eight premises in Srinagar and one each in Delhi and Bengaluru of the Kehwah Group, promoted by deputy mayor of the corporation Sheikh Imran.
While the CBDT did not name the group in a statement issued late evening in Delhi, it said that the department had “struck again in the J&K region”.
It said that the group searched by it is engaged in the business of transportation, manufacturing of silk yarn, hospitality and retail trading of Kashmir arts and crafts.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is the administrative authority for the I-T Department.
The action is linked to the recently-unearthed alleged irregularities in J&K Bank’s affairs and the raids conducted by the state anti-corruption bureau (ACB), official sources said.
“None of the members of the group is regular in filing their I-T returns. As a one-time settlement, the group has got their loans of Rs 170 crore with J&K Bank restructured for a sum of Rs 77 crore, out of which, payment of only Rs 50.34 crore to the J&K Bank has been made so far and balance of Rs 27.66 crore is yet to be paid,” CBDT spokesperson Surabhi Ahluwalia said in a statement.
During the searches, the statement said, evidence has been detected “indicating that the one-time settlement of the loan from J&K Bank has been done through the active connivance of a senior J&K Bank officer who was receiving several out of turn promotions”.
“Furthermore, evidence has also been unearthed indicating that the repayment of Rs 50.34 crore pertaining to the aforesaid loan has been greenfielded by the J&K Bank by granting loan of similar amount to an associate who has confessed to his role in layering the entire transaction,” the spokesperson said.
In the Kashmir Valley, the searches were conducted in the Bohri Kadal and Nowgam area of downtown Srinagar and six other nearby locations, the sources said.
The CBDT said the action yielded results leading to recovery of “incriminating evidence” like documents of sale of undisclosed property amounting to Rs 22 crore.
It said papers were also recovered relating to agreement to sell transport business for Rs 9.10 crore, undisclosed profit of Rs 15-20 crore on account of sale of cold storage plant at Lassipora in Pulwama district.
“The cost of this project (in Lassipora) was found to have been inflated to Rs 47 crore instead of the actual cost of Rs 17 crore for claiming more subsidy from the government by raising inflated and bogus bills. The loan for this project was taken from J&K Bank,” the spokesperson said.
Undisclosed properties at Sonamarg (valued Rs 2.68 crore), Pahalgam (Rs 3.55 crore) and Bengaluru (Rs 1 crore) have also been found along with a shop in partnership in Delhi which was purchased for Rs 1.02 crore, it said.
The sources said that the Kehwah group, with Imran as its chairman, is also facing default proceedings after 23 of its accounts with the J&K Bank were declared non-performing assets for dues of over about Rs 120 crore.
The action comes in the backdrop of ACB raids against the bank and the removal of its chairman Parvez Ahmed after charges of his alleged involvement in corruption, nepotism and favouritism were reported.
Referring to the ACB proceedings against Ahmed, a government official had told PTI earlier this week that investigation into alleged backdoor appointments, “irregularities, loot and plunder” is intended to cleanse the system at the bank.
The state government holds 59 per cent stake in J&K Bank.
After his removal, Ahmed in a Twitter post said he has absolutely no regret over his work and that he did his job “most diligently, honestly and in the best interest of the institution”.
Loans worth hundreds of crores were allegedly allotted without formalities in “brazen violation” of standard operating procedures or guidelines to select recommendees of two politicians, the official had said.
The CBDT said its teams found digital evidence, analysis of which is in progress.