MD, 3 firm directors booked for fraud

SOLAN: The managing director and three directors of Paonta Sahib-based Indian Technomac Company Limited have been booked by the police for cheating and forgery following receipt of a complaint from the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Sirmaur, for having defrauded various departments of more than Rs 5,000 crore.

Ambika Sharma

Tribune News Service

Solan, March 12

The managing director and three directors of Paonta Sahib-based Indian Technomac Company Limited have been booked by the police for cheating and forgery following receipt of a complaint from the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Sirmaur, for having defrauded various departments of more than Rs 5,000 crore.

Though the state government was contemplating referring the case to the Enforcement Directorate, it was a pre-requisite to register an FIR under the Criminal Act first.

Pramod Chauhan, DSP, Paonta Sahib, while confirming the news, said an FIR had been registered against MD Rakesh Sharma and three directors — Viney Sharma, Ranganathan Sirinivasan and Ashwini Kumar Sahoo under Sections 420,467,468,471 and 34 of the IPC for cheating and forgery.

Various stakeholders have been defrauded by the company that had ceased its operations in 2014. While the Excise and Taxation Department alone had suffered tax evasion worth Rs 2,175.51 crore, various banks were defaulted to the tune of Rs 2167 crore and the Income Tax Department owned around Rs 750 crore. The EPF, HPSEB and Labour Departments owed another Rs 20 crore.

The Economic Intelligence Unit of the Excise and Taxation Department had detected this fraud on February 18, 2014 as a huge mismatch was found in the return filed by the company and the VAT-26-A declarations. The company was manufacturing steel and raw materials, ferro alloys and steel ingots and it had become liable to pay tax from January 2008.

Several irregularities were detected by the committee under the HPVAT Act and the CST Act with the total tax liabilities of Rs 2,175.51 crore been detected.

Though the tax notice was served by officials of the ETD to pay the tax, the company instead filed appeals in the state High Court as well as the apex court which were dismissed and failed to give any relief to the company. Appeals were also filed before the HP Tax Tribunal but this too was dismissed.

The company officials closed the manufacturing operations surreptitiously in March 2014 and before the pending tax could be recovered they vanished from the area.

Though a task force was constituted to evaluate their properties and recover the tax, little success has been achieved to recover any money so far. With the HIMCON assessing the worth of the properties at Rs 275 crore, it will be a Herculean task for the state government to recover the pending tax.

While this has emerged as the biggest tax fraud which had surfaced in the state, it was intriguing to note that the accountability of the officials of various departments who had failed to check this fraud in its initial stage had not been fixed till now. Though the CID was probing the role of the power officials for producing fake RTGS of monthly power bills, only an accounts officer of the company had been arrested so far.

The state government has failed to initiate any inquiry to probe the role of the field staff of various departments whose negligence has led to losses in crores to the state exchequer.

As many as 21 companies had been constituted by the group from 2009 to 2013 and their modus operandi involved siphoning off or diverting the huge bank loans availed by the company by means of benami land purchases in Paonta Sahib.

Accountability of officials still not fixed

While this has emerged as the biggest tax fraud which had surfaced in the state, it was intriguing to note that the accountability of the officials of various departments who had failed to check this fraud in its initial stage had not been fixed till now. Though the CID was probing the role of the power officials for producing fake RTGS of monthly power bills, only an accounts officer of the company had been arrested so far.

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