The Intelligence & Criminal Investigation wing of the Income Tax (IT) department has started probing the directors of a number of Kolkata-based shell companies having close relatives of ruling Trinamool Congress on their boards.
The IT department is conducting probe 147 shell companies based in Kolkata that have been flagged by SEBI for probable defalcation of income tax.
Of these 147 Kolkata-based shell firms, around 15 companies have close relatives of Trinamool leaders on their boards.
Shell companies are classically defined as a non-trading or dormant company floated with the intention of financial maneuvering and/or tax defalcation.
Sources from the Bengal circle of IT department, that covers West Bengal and Sikkim, said that these 147 firms have a total unpaid tax liability to the tune of Rs 38,000 crore.
“All these shell companies were floated in and after 2009. The department is in the process of sending notices to the directors of such shell companies seeking explanations about their nature of involvement as board members. Those to be sent notices will include those directors who happen to be close relatives of influential political leaders in West Bengal,” said an IT official associated with the probe process.
The officers did not name anybody, but confirmed that among those to be sent notices is a family member of a senior Trinamool Congress leader named in the Narada scam.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has repeatedly alleged that the Centre uses investigative agencies such as Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate to settle political scores with her party’s leaders.
“The investigating officers were surprised at the well-orchestrated network for setting up shell companies in Kolkata . It appears to be superior to that in other cities. This probably explains why Kolkata is a favourite destination of shell company operators,” the IT official said.
The IT department is also after a number of city-based chartered accountants who played a key role both in setting up these companies and channelising funds. “Around 25 Kolkata-based practising chartered accountants are under scanner. We are in the process of accumulating evidences against them and once we finish that we will appeal for cancellation of their practising license,” said the IT official.