I-T sleuths unearth Rs 2,000 fraud, Chandrababu Naidu’s ex-aide under scanner

India

Investigators say a series of raids they conducted this month, mainly in Andhra Pradesh, have unearthed over Rs 2,000 crore hidden away from tax authorities through “bogus sub-contractors, over-invoicing and bogus billing”.

They found “several incriminating documents, e-mails, WhatsApp messages and unexplained foreign transactions”.

The raids began in February 6 and covered six cities in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Delhi. One of the people searched was P Srinivasa Rao, the former personal secretary to N Chandrababu Naidu, until recently the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. The sleuths say they recovered “incriminating evidence” from him.

The Income Tax Department’s searches revealed that three prominent infrastructure groups based in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana sub-contracted work to bogus firms in an attempt to hide away more than Rs 2,000 crore — a preliminary estimate.

As well, FDI receipts for several crores are thought to indicate one of the groups’ attempts to round-trip unaccounted wealth.

The I-T department restrained more than 25 bank lockers.

It has also seized Rs 85 lakh in cash and jewellery worth Rs 71 lakh from P Srinivasa Rao.

Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has dismissed as propaganda the ruling YSRCP’s allegations of corruption, and said it has no link to the infrastructure firms being investigated.

As for the money seized from P Srinivasa Rao, it is he who must provide the I-T department with an explanation, the party said.

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