I-T Dept freezes Rs 53-crore deposits of Maharashtra-based urban cooperative bank

The Income Tax Department has frozen deposits worth over Rs 53 crore of an urban credit cooperative bank in Maharashtra after it found “glaring irregularities” in the opening of accounts in a recent raid, the CBDT said on Saturday. The department raided the headquarters of the bank and the residence of its chairman and a director on October 27, it said.

While the official statement did not name the searched entity, sources identified it as Buldana Urban Cooperative Credit bank.

“The analysis of bank data on core banking solutions (CBS) and the statements of key persons recorded during the search action have revealed glaring irregularities in opening the bank accounts.

“More than 1,200 new bank accounts were opened in the said branch without PAN (permanent account number),” the Central Board of Direct Taxes, which frames policy for the tax department, said in a statement.

The investigations, it said, found that these bank accounts were opened “without following KYC (know your customer) norms and all account opening forms are filled in by the bank staff and they have put their signature/thumb impressions”.

The department alleged that multiple cash deposits of “exact” denomination of Rs 1.9 lakh each were made and they totalled Rs 53.72 crore.

“Out of these, more than 700 bank accounts have been identified which were opened in a series where cash deposits of more than Rs 34.10 crore were made immediately within seven days of the opening of bank accounts, mainly during the period August 2020-May 2021,” it said.

“These deposits have been structured to avoid the mandatory PAN requirement for cash deposits over Rs 2 lakh,” it added.

The money was subsequently converted into fixed deposits in the same branch, the statement claimed.

The CBDT said enquiries in a few cases of such account holders showed that they were “not aware of cash deposits in the bank and categorically denied any knowledge of such bank accounts or even the fixed deposits”.

“The chairman, CMD and the manager of the branch, could not explain the source of cash deposits and accepted that these were done at the behest of one of the directors of the bank, who is a prominent local businessman engaged in trading of grains.

“On the basis of the evidences gathered and statements recorded, the entire amount of Rs 53.72 crore has been restrained,” the statement said. S- Times

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