A special anti-money laundering court here has attached a benami beach-side plot of land in Goa purchased “illegally” by a senior IRS officer, who was arrested few years ago for allegedly diluting I-T appraisal reports of arms dealer Suresh Nanda’s companies.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has been probing this case since 2012 for alleged laundering charges, had attached this asset in January and had approached the court to approve its action.
The I-T officer in question, Ashutosh Verma, is currently posted as a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax in Chennai.
The CBI, which arrested Verma and Nanda in 2008 from a five-star hotel in Mumbai, had filed charges against the accused in a court last year.
The ED, in its probe under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), found the land situated in Morgim village in Goa’s Pernem was purchased by the I-T officer “as benami, for a total consideration amount of Rs. 4.40 crore”.
“No doubt the properties attached are proceeds of crime or value thereof and are involved in money laundering,” the court of adjudicating authority of PMLA Mukesh Kumar said in its recent order.
The authority is the judicial body to decide on criminal enforcement matters. In its investigations, the ED found that payment for the purchase of the said land was made in a circuitous manner by a number of people known to Verma, a 1999-batch officer of the Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax).
It was also found that the land was being held under a different name in order to shield its original owner which allegedly is Verma.
Such a deal is categorised as ‘benami’.
While only a payment of Rs. 2 crore, for the purchase of the land, was made from the account of Ms Nitya Resorts (land is held in the name of this company), the rest amount of Rs. 2.4 crore was “paid in cash”, the ED complaint said.
Verma, during his submissions to the court, however, said “neither he nor any of his family members have any connection (direct or indirect) with the property in question” and reiterated that the property “does not belong to him”.