Tax authorities attach ‘benami’ properties worth Rs 3,500 cr

New Delhi: Over 900 ‘benami’ properties held by fictitious owners, including flats, shops, jewellery and vehicles worth over Rs 3,500 crore have been attached by the Income Tax Department, according to an official announcement on Thursday.

A Union Finance statement here said these assets were attached by the tax authorities following intensified action under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, which came into force from November 1, 2016.

“The Department had set up 24 dedicated Benami Prohibition Units (BPUs) under its Investigation Directorates all over India in May, 2017 to ensure swift action in respect of Benami properties.

“Due to intensive efforts undertaken by the Department, provisional attachment has been made in more than 900 cases of properties under the Act. These include plots of land, flats, shops, jewellery, vehicles, deposits in bank accounts, fixed deposits etc,” the Ministry said.

The value of properties under attachment is more than Rs 3,500 crore including immovable properties of more than Rs 2,900 crore, it added.

The Ministry said that in five cases, the provisional attachments of benami properties, amounting to more than Rs 150 crore have been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority.

In one such case, it was established that a real estate company had acquired about 50 acres of land, valued at more than Rs 110 crore, using the names of certain persons without any means as “benamidars”.

“This was corroborated from the sellers of the land as well as the brokers involved,” the statement said.

In another case following the demonetisation of high-value notes, two assessees were found depositing demonetised currency into multiple bank accounts in the names of their employees and associates to be ultimately remitted to their bank accounts. The total amount attempted to be remitted to the beneficial owners was about Rs 39 crore.

In a third case, cash amount of Rs 1.11 crore was intercepted from a vehicle with a person who denied the ownership of this cash. Subsequently, no one claimed ownership of this cash and it was held to be benami property by the Adjudicating Authority, the statement added.