The I-T notice outside Vasi Kunj Complex, the property of fodder scam accused Tripurari Mohan Prasad (circled by The Telegraph) at Saguna Mor. Picture by Ashok Sinha
Patna, Sept. 5: The income tax (I-T) department is resuscitating the scams that have rocked the state for over a decade and more to identify assets and properties of the accused persons which have so far remained under wraps.
The ongoing investigations against politicians, officials and suppliers involved in these scams have resulted in the unearthing of massive investments made in land and real estate, said a top income tax official, who did not wish to be named.
“The income tax owed by the scamsters would be in hundreds of crores,” said the official, stressing that it was an effort by the department to “dig out and put life into a dead mass”.
When these scams broke in the 1990s till about the mid-2000s, the properties and bank accounts identified by the income tax department, CBI and Enforcement Directorate were attached. When the accused in these multi-crore scams were asked by the I-T authorities to pay up their tax dues, they maintained they were unable to do so because all their properties had been attached and bank accounts were frozen by various investigating agencies.
“But you hardly find a scamster living in poverty. They are always moving in expensive SUVs, flying to Delhi and back numerous times a month and putting up in the best five star hotels of the country,” said the tax department source, stressing that it was obvious that the scamsters had suppressed their true assets and wealth from the agencies.
For example, the I-T department has identified 24 cottahs of land belonging to one of the key accused in the fodder scam, Tripurari Mohan Prasad, near Saguna Mor off Danapur. Prasad, who was a supplier in the animal husbandry department, has given the land to a real estate developer to construct 72 flats in two blocks, called the Vasi Kunj Complex. Around 18 flats have already been sold.
The I-T department has put up a signboard in front of the upcoming buildings, declaring the property as attached because of the money to be recovered from the promoter. The notice also advises the general public to desist from buying flats in the complex. “The accused owes the I-T department Rs 15.76 crore,” says the notice.
A commercial complex, also belonging to Prasad, located on SP Verma Road has been detected and attached. Another plot of land has been detected on Hinoo Road, Ranchi, on which apartments have already been constructed. The volume of property suppressed by the various scam accused can be estimated by the fact that the I-T department has put up similar boards in front of 35 properties belonging to such persons.
The I-T department is calculating the undeclared assets on a “spin-off” basis. “Take for example, property purchased in the 1990s from ill-gotten money which have been transacted for business purposes and whose price has escalated. Income tax is being calculated on escalated prices. It’s like a chicken that gives eggs. The price of the eggs will be added,” the top tax source said, indicating that the scam accused would have to cough up huge amounts.
When these scams surfaced, the agencies conducted their investigations under tremendous pressure because the names of powerful politicians, senior bureaucrats and persons having access to the powers-that-be figured in the chargesheet. “Now the time has come to investigate the scams with a fresh perspective,” the source said, adding that the I-T department would welcome information from the public on any such undeclared wealth of the scamsters.