KOCHI: The demonetisation drive, which has left the public queuing up at ATM kiosks and banks, has come as an opportunity for some to settle scores with their enemies. Information is pouring in about persons who allegedly hoard black money, and the Income Tax (IT) Department is striving to verify their authenticity.
Speaking to ‘Express,’ an IT officer who is engaged in investigation of cases pertaining to unaccounted money said there was a spurt in black money alerts ever since the Central Government withdrew the Rs. 500/1,000 currency notes. According to him, the majority of such information would be aimed at taking revenge against business rivals and enemies.
However, the Department has taken steps to inquire into those tip-offs which are found to be genuine.
“About 80 per cent of the alerts sent through anonymous letters and phone calls have been found to be bogus. We responded to the few genuine alerts by conducting raids and initiating probe against those who hoard black money,” said the official.
In one such case, IT sleuths raided the residence and office of an Aluva-based businessman and seized black money worth Rs. 30 lakh the other day. IT official said they were monitoring the situation, and would strengthen enforcement activities once the currency shortage comes to an end.
“There is severe shortage of currency notes, which has left the public in dire straits. This is not the right time to flush out black money from those who hoard it. Once the currency shortage gets over, we will enhance enforcement activities,” he added.
In the first half of the year, the IT Department seized Rs. 1,200 crore of unaccounted money from Kerala alone. Officials said the amount would be just the tip of the iceberg.
The Department has decided to scrutinise investments made in gold and real estate over the last year, especially using money sent from abroad, to trace those who hoard black money.
IT officials said they would be coordinating with the other agencies like Customs, Central Excise, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to flush out unaccounted money in Kerala.