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Odisha cash haul: Role of hawala operators, shell companies under scanner

December 12, 2023 00:21 IST

With the "highest-ever" cash seizure of Rs 351 crore by income tax sleuths during raids against a distillery company owned by a Congress MP's family, the role of hawala operators and shell companies that were allegedly used to channel the "illicit" funds has come under the scanner, official sources said Monday.

IMAGE: A view of Congress MP Dhiraj Sahu's residence during the ongoing raid of the Income Tax department, in Ranchi, Jharkhand, December 11, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

An interim report on the action has also been sent by the field investigation wing of the income tax department to the Central Board of Direct Taxes in Delhi, the administrative body for the department.


The searches that began against the Bhubaneswar-headquartered Boudh Distillery Pvt. Ltd are continuing at about seven locations on Monday, the sixth day after they were launched by the taxman on December 6 on charges of alleged tax evasion and "out of book" transactions.

The searches are expected to be called off soon after the signing of some 'panchnamas' and recording of statements, they said.

The I-T department has effected the country's highest-every cash seizure of Rs 351 crore by any agency in a single operation after the five-day counting ended on Sunday.

As many as 30-34 premises in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal were searched, the sources said.

About 3 kg of gold jewellery was also seized by the department, they said.

A number of hawala operators working in these three states and the incorporation of some 'shell' or dubious companies are under the scanner of the department after documents indicating their roles were recovered during these searches and recovery of the huge cash, the sources said.

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 Sahu did not respond to PTI's queries regarding the action being carried out against them.

BJP MPs led by party chief JP Nadda on Monday held a protest near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament Complex, alleging the cash seized during the raids proved that the Congress was "neck-deep" in corruption.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg... Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi will have to answer whose money it is and how it was looted,” Nadda said.

BJP members in Lok Sabha also raised the issue in the House on Monday.

The Congress has distanced itself from the MP, claiming that the party has nothing to do with his business.

"The Indian National Congress is in no way connected with the businesses of Dheeraj Sahu, MP. Only he can explain, and should explain, how huge amounts of cash have been reportedly unearthed by the income-tax authorities from his properties," AICC general secretary communications Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X last week.

Targeting the opposition parties, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said 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 Bharatiya Janata Party leader questioned the "silence" of INDIA bloc leaders, saying he could understand why the Congress is keeping mum but wondered why parties like the Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal were doing the same.

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