Black money fight: Centre unveils crackdown against shell companies, set to take ‘harsh punitive’ action

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New Delhi | Updated: February 10, 2017 9:13 PM

The government on Friday said that it has unearthed Rs 3,900 crore crore in laundered money in 49 shell companies.

pm1A meeting in PMO was held along with senior officers of various departments to review the functioning of ‘Shell Companies’ in India. (AP)

Black money fight: Centre has launched a a major crackdown against domestic shell companies and vowed to take “harsh punitive” action against them that also includes freezing of their bank accounts that may have been used to launder money or evade taxes.

It on Friday said that it has unearthed Rs 3,900 crore crore in laundered money in 49 shell companies. It said that it found 559 beneficiaries had laundered the amount with the help of 54 professionals. A task force with members from various regulatory Ministries and Enforcement Agencies has been set up under the co-chairmanship of the revenue secretary and corporate affairs secretary to monitor the actions taken against deviant shell companies by various agencies.

“These information has been shared with SIT, Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, SEBI and The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI),” the government said in a statement. It further said that income tax department has reopened completed assessment in these cases and enforcement directorate has initiated action under prevention of money laundering act (PMLA), 2002. ICAI has also initiated disciplinary proceedings against its members. Winding up process
has been initiated in respect of 49 shell companies.

A meeting in PMO was held along with senior officers of various departments to review the functioning of ‘Shell Companies’ (companies which does not conduct any operations and indulge in money laundering) in India, so as to prevent their misuse for money laundering and tax-evasion, especially in the context of unearthing black money post demonetisation.

There are about 15 lakh registered companies in India; and only 6 lakh companies file their annual return. This means that large number of these companies may be indulging in financial irregularities. In a sample analysis of shell companies, the government said, it found that Rs1,238 crore cash had been deposited in these entities during November-December period. Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) has filed criminal prosecution for cheating national exchequer after investigation of entry operators running a group of 49 shell companies and other proprietorship concerns.

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“Harsh punitive actions will be taken against the deviant shell companies which will include freezing of Bank Accounts, striking off the names of dormant companies, invocation of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016,” the government warned.

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