Intensifying efforts against benami properties and transactions, the taxmen have made the provisional attachment in over 900 cases under the Benami Act. These attachments made by the income tax department include plots of land, flats, shops, jewellery, vehicles, deposits in bank accounts, fixed deposits etc, Ministry of Finance said in a press release. The value of properties which were attached under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, which came into force starting 1 November 2016, is more than Rs. 3,500 crore including immovable properties of more than Rs 2,900 crore. “In five cases, the provisional attachments of Benami properties, amounting to more than Rs 150 crore have been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority. In one such case, it was established that a Real Estate Company had acquired about 50 acres of land, valued at more than Rs.110 crore, using the names of certain persons of no means as benamidars. This was corroborated by the sellers of the land as well as the brokers involved. In another case, post demonetization, two assessees were found depositing demonetized currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees, associates etc. to be ultimately remitted to their bank accounts,” the release said. The income tax department has set-up 24 dedicated Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) under its Investigation Directorates all over India in May, 2017 to ensure swift action in respect of Benami properties.
The Income Tax Department on Wednesday had warned people to “keep away” from benami transactions, cautioning that violations under the newly enacted law invite criminal prosecution and rigorous imprisonment up to seven years. The department put out its alert in a public advertisement published in leading national dailies. Titled “Keep Away from Benami Transactions”, it described black money as a “crime against humanity” and urged “conscientious citizens to help the government in eradicating it”. “Benamidar (in whose name benami proper is standing), beneficiary (who actually paid consideration) and persons who abet and induce benami transactions are prosecutable and may face rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years besides being liable to pay fine up to 25 percent of the fair market value of benami property,” the I-T advertisement said.
The tax department attached benami assets worth Rs 1,833 crore across the country, issued 517 notices and made 541 attachments, from November 1, 2016, to October 2017. The department started initiating action under the new Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016 from November 1, 2016.