New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: The cash seizure in the income-tax department’s searches against an Odisha-based distillery company, owned by a Congress MP’s family, has been calculated at Rs 351 crore after five days of counting and is the “highest-ever” haul in a single action by any probe agency in the country, official sources said on Sunday.
The premises of the Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Dhiraj Prasad Sahu, in Ranchi and other places, were also covered during the searches by the department. The company and the member of Parliament did not respond to PTI’s queries regarding the action being carried out against them.
The marathon raids against Boudh Distillery Private Limited, its promoters and others entered the fifth day on Sunday. The raids were launched on December 6 by the taxman on charges of tax evasion and “off-the-book” transactions.
The sources told PTI that Rs 351 crore cash has been counted and the process has ended.
The counting involved nine teams of about 80 people from the tax department and various banks, working in shifts in a 24×7 cycle.
Another team of 200 officials, including security personnel, drivers, and other staff, joined in after the taxman found 10 almirahs stuffed with cash apart from some other locations.
As many as 200 bags and trunks were used to transport the cash for depositing it in various bank branches in Odisha, the sources said.
The department believes that the entire cache of currency is “unaccounted” money earned from cash sales of country liquor by the business group, distributors and others.
It is the highest-ever cash seizure made by an agency in the country as part of an action against a single group and entities linked to it, the sources had said.
Some of the high-value seizures in the past include one from 2019 when the GST Intelligence raided a Kanpur-based businessman and seized cash amounting to Rs 257 crore and another instance where cash amounting to Rs 163 crore was unearthed by the I-T department during searches against a road construction firm in Tamil Nadu in July 2018.
The department is also recording the statements of the executives and other staff who were present at the searched locations and will soon issue summonses to the main promoters of the company for recording their statements.
It was not clear what amount of cash and other documents were seized from Sahu’s house.
The maximum cache of currency, largely in Rs 500 denomination, was recovered from the premises of the company in Bolangir district, the sources said.
The BJP on Sunday stepped up its attack on the Congress and other opposition parties, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah saying it is now clear that their “propaganda” about probe agencies being misused was driven by the fear that their corruption will be exposed.
In a statement, the senior BJP leader questioned the “silence” of INDIA bloc leaders, saying he can understand why the Congress is keeping mum but wondered why parties like the TMC, DMK, JD(U) and the RJD were doing the same.
While the Congress has distanced itself from the MP, claiming that the party has nothing to do with his business, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah accused the Centre of targeting only the Congress and asked why no searches were carried out against BJP leaders.
Jharkhand Congress in-charge Avinash Pandey said, “Since he is Congress MP, he should make an official statement about how such a big amount of money came to him.” Union Tourism Minister and BJP leader G Kishan Reddy asked why Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was “silent” on the issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Friday assured the people that the money looted from the public will be returned and had posted a Hindi newspaper report where the cash recovered by the IT department was shown stacked.
Taking to X, he had said, “The countrymen should look at the pile of these notes and then listen to the honest speeches’ of their leaders …Whatever has been looted from the public, every penny will have to be returned, this is Modi’s guarantee.