The services ranged from land allotment to obtaining government clearances, I-T said in a press release. The intermediaries were also being paid by bureaucrats in Maharashtra to secure lucrative postings and government contractors to get payments cleared, the release added.
I-T carried out a three-day search starting September 23 at the suites along with 25 residential and 15 office premises. Transactions detected were worth Rs 1,050 crore, it said. Mobile phones, pen drives, hard drives and emails of suspects were seized during the operation. I-T has also seized Rs 4.6 crore cash, jewellery of Rs 3.42 crore and restrained use of four bank lockers. The four middlemen used ‘angadiyas’ to transfer cash, it said.
Money includes cash paid by babus for postings: I-T
The release said, “The syndicate, consisting of businessmen/middlemen/persons holding public offices, used various code names in their records, and in one case had backdated records of 10 years.” It said the money seized included “cash paid by bureaucrats for getting key postings” and paid by “contractors for getting payments released”. I-T officers also recovered documents including a summary of cash generated and disbursed with particulars of the amounts received and receivables.
The department said it found a key source of generation of such cash was linked to bureaucrats who paid to secure significant postings. The investigation also revealed that one of the middlemen had amassed unaccounted wealth by purchasing land from farmers in Maharashtra at a cheap rates and then selling it to government undertakings or big corporates at higher rates. The I-T press note said, “Many senior bureaucrats, their relatives and other prominent people have been found to have invested in these schemes.” The middle man received funds from businessmen and industrialists to help in land acquisition under the government scheme.
The officials said they found evidence that includes date-wise transactions for cash deposits of around Rs 27 crore and cash payments of around Rs 63 crore to various persons whose names are prefixed with code words. In a chat involving one of the four middlemen, I-T found particulars of cash transactions, revealing receipts of cash of around Rs 16 crore and outflow of around Rs12 crore.
The department said it developed the intelligence for six months by surveillance. They used encrypted modes of communication and were able to even trace a secret hideout of the middlemen, from where evidence was recovered.