Bengal commercial taxes directorate unearths Rs 4,716cr fake GST invoice rackets
The Directorate of Commercial Taxes (State GST) of West Bengal has unearthed massive fake GST invoice rackets involving a turnover of Rs 4716 crore and arrested four key operators, officials said on Friday.
This is the first time in the history of the directorate since 1941 that arrests have been made directly under its Bureau of Investigation. Earlier, help from the police was taken for arrests, they said.
''The tax evasion involved in the two rackets was a staggering Rs 801 crore'', Directorate of Commercial Taxes Commissioner Khalid Anwar told PTI.
The total turnover involved in these two rackets amounts to Rs 4,716 crore, Additional Commissioner Sudeshna Mukhopadhyay said.
''A calibrated investigation since February has revealed that four operators created a network of 178 fake concerns in West Bengal, issuing fraudulent invoices to evade Rs 801 crore in government tax revenue,'' Mukhopadhyay said.
She said two Deputy Commissioners Somasree Kar and Madhumita Kundu are the investigating officers who unearthed these rackets with the help of a team of about 25 officers of the Bureau of Investigation, South Bengal. ''They worked day and night to find out the entire trail. The investigation is still on,'' Mukhopadhyay said.
The operators used to lure unsuspecting individuals with petty cash or promises of employment and fraudulently obtained their PAN, Aadhaar, and other identification documents. Using them, they incorporated several fake firms and obtained GST registrations.
''To further their fraudulent activities, the operators forged rent agreements, electricity bills, property tax certificates, and even signatures of premises owners and notaries. The entire racket was fueled by money laundering through both banking channels and cash transactions,'' Mukhopadhyay said.
One of the arrested individuals is in judicial custody, while the other three have been granted bail with a directive to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
''We are currently preparing a prosecution complaint (charge sheet) to be filed before the court. Further investigations are underway to identify and apprehend other individuals involved in this massive tax evasion scheme,'' Anwar said.
The arrests and the ongoing investigation will serve as a deterrent to those involved in tax evasion and demonstrate the Directorate's commitment to safeguard the government's revenue, he said.
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