The Investigation wing of the Income Tax (I-T) department in Mumbai is planning to charge a senior Maharastra government official under a law that was recently amended. The allegation on the official are of owning several Benami properties, including two under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), sources told the Indian Express. As per the report by Indian Express, this is the first time that the tax authorities are taking recourse to laws under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, to charge a serving government official and seize properties. Vikas Rasal, CEO, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Iron and Steel Market Committee has been accused by the I-T department of acquiring at least nine properties in Maharastra, which also includes two SRA properties in Bandra, using “closely related fronts” at a nominal price by “coercing certain slum dwellers”.
The sources told Indian Express that two SRA properties were allegedly acquired by Rasal in 2013. Sources added that according to the tax department, Rasal who is a provincial service officer with the state government allegedly parked unaccounted money with jewellers and bullion traders at Vile Parle in Mumbai.
As per the report, sources said,”“The tax authority is also probing city-based bullion traders connected to Rasal. There is a suspicion that a significant portion of this black money came from bribes. The agency has got hold of persons with whom Rasal parked his black money.”
They added, the tax agency on July 7, intercepted Rasal and seized over Rs 50 lakh from him at the Mumbai airport, while he was travelling from Delhi to Mumbai allegedly with undisclosed cash, said sources. The seizure was followed by raids at his office and residence in Mumbai.
Rasal’s mobile phone has been seized by the tax agency. When the family member’s of Rasal were contacted by Indian Express they refused to speak on the subject. A family member said,”Neither Rasal nor we want to comment on the issue.”
Violations of the stringent Benami Act attracts seven years in prison and a hefty fine. A transaction is considered Benami, or nameless when a property is transferred to or is held by a person and the money for purchase has been provided or paid by another person.
Rasal is currently in charge of the largest iron and steel market in Asia at Kalamboli.