Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - HT Correspondent

About 900,000 regis tered com­pa­nies do not file an­nual re­turns and are po­ten­tia sources of money laun­der­ing, a top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said on Sat­ur­day, as fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jaitley pitched for the coun try’s top anti-fi­nan­cial crime agency to be used “ex­pe­di­tiously” against tax cheats. Rev­enue sec re­tary Has­mukh Ad­hia said the PMO had set up a task force to mon­i­tor these firms and “there is no rea­son for us to let such com pa­nies op­er­ate in India”.

Of 1.5 mil­lion com­pa­nies regis tered in India, about 600,000 file their re­turns, in­clud­ing an­nua au­dited re­ports, with the mi­nis try of cor­po­rate af­fairs. About half of them show zero in­come of­fi­cial records show. “We have given no­tices to some of them,” Ad­hia said at a func­tion of the En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED).

The BJP gov­ern­ment has in­ten­si­fied its drive against tax evaders since its Novem­ber 8 de­ci­sion to scrap old 500- and 1000 ru­pee notes, a move PM Naren dra Modi said was aimed at break­ing India’s black econ­omy

Crack­ing down on shell com pa­nies, the gov­ern­ment de­cided in Fe­bru­ary to take “harsh puni tive” ac­tion in­clud­ing freez­ing the bank ac­counts used to laun der money, evade taxes. Shel com­pa­nies are fronts used as con duits to con­vert il­licit money into le­gal cash, and are key to money laun­der­ing op­er­a­tions.

Speak­ing at the same event fi­nance min­is­ter Jaitley said the rev­enue depart­ment and the ED had a “very im­por­tant role to play” in India’s war against black money.

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