Tax officials mull criminal action against Mahesh Shah

Ahmedabad, Dec 22 (IANS) The I-T Department is considering criminal proceedings against property dealer Mahesh Shah, who declared Rs 13,860 crore under an Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) but later said it belonged to some “big fish” whom he would name only to I-T officials.

The Income-Tax Department officials on Thursday remained silent on whether the 67-year-old businessman had so far provided any information about his declared amount.

“We suspected his intentions from day one and so rejected his claim beforehand. We also did not include his declaration as part of the national IDS figures announced,” Chief Commissioner of Income Tax B.D. Gupta told reporters here.

Shah came to the limelight after he declared an unaccounted income of Rs 13,860 crore under the IDS. However, he disappeared without paying the first instalment of the Rs 1,560 crore tax on the amount.

He later reappeared before the media and made a statement that the amount he disclosed did not belong to him but he was a tool in the hands of some big fish who promised him a hefty “commission”.

The I-T officials said they would now initiate criminal proceedings against Shah and his chartered accountant Taihmul Shethna for “false” declaration.

“We have sent in a report to the nodal authorities (Central Board of Direct Taxes) and now any further action is out of our purview. However, we are going to initiate criminal proceedings against Shah and his chartered accountant under the Indian Penal Code,” P.C. Modi, Director General-Investigation of Income Tax, Gujarat, said.

The I-T officials also refused to divulge any details about the findings from Surat-based snacks-seller-turned-financier Kishore Bhajiyawala.

“We cannot give you any figures, as his is not the only case. We are flooded with several similar types of Bhajiyawalas and shall be able to share more details in January,” Modi said.

Some figures suggest that the I-T department had unearthed “undisclosed” wealth to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore from Bhajiyawala.

On the misuse of Jan-Dhan Accounts to convert “illegal” money into legal currency, the I-T officials claimed that so far they had “not” come across any such case in Gujarat.

Several reports, however, suggested that post-demonetisation, deposits in Jan-Dhan accounts in the state had reached roughly around Rs 3,560 crore — up from Rs 1,687 crore before November 8, 2016, when demonetisation was announced.

–IANS

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