The Modi government’s demonetisation drive led to the scrapping of 2.24 lakh companies for remaining inactive for a time span of two years or more as well as for other suspicious transactions. Preliminary reports indicate that 35,000 of these so-called shell companies deposited and then withdrew Rs 17,000 crore in the post demonetisation period, The Times of India reports.
The Finance Ministry said that one company having negative balance deposited and withdrew Rs 2,484 crore, whereas another one had as many as 2,134 accounts. Not only the 2 lakh companies have been de-registered by the government, but the directors of these companies have been disqualified as well. “Preliminary enquiry has shown that over 3,000 disqualified directors are directors in more than 20 companies each, which is beyond the limit prescribed under the law,” the government was quoted by TOI. Banks have also been asked to freeze the accounts of these companies and share the date with enforcement authorities, including the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), department of financial services and the Reserve Bank of India for further action. Till now, 56 banks have shared information about 58,000 companies as per TOI report.
The move to strike off these firms has been taken by a special task force (STF) set up by the Prime Minister’s Office which will tighten regulations for the defaulting companies with several corrective measures. The government is also initiating criminal investigations under new provisions of the Companies Act. “Under Section 447 of the Act, which defines fraud, stringent punishment, including imprisonment up to 10 years, is stipulated. Further, reference has been made to the ministry of finance to include it as a Scheduled Offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act,” the government said.