I-T Deptt raids properties of Deputy Mayor Srinagar

Income Tax Department sleuths on Tuesday conducted raids at several properties owned by the Deputy Mayor of Srinagar city, Sheikh Imran.

These raids have been conducted just few days after Anti-Corruption Bureau initiated investigation into alleged misconduct in J&K Bank.

I-T sleuths raided eight premises in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar and one each in Delhi and Bengaluru of the Kehwah Group, promoted by Sheikh Imran.

In Srinagar, the searches were conducted in the Bohri Kadal area of Downtown and seven other nearby locations.

“A team of I-T department officials from Chandigarh were accompanied by the local officials along with the police and CRPF personnel. The team seized several documents which would be assessed and scrutinized to ascertain facts,” said a senior official.

Surabhi Ahluwalia, Commissioner of Income Tax for Media & Technical Policy, in a written statement issued to media, said: “None of the members of the (Kehwa) group is regular in filing their Income Tax Returns. As a one-time settlement, the group has got their loans of Rs 170 crore with J&K Bank restructured for a sum of Rs 77 crore, out of which, payment of only Rs.50.34 crore to the J&K Bank has been made so far and balance of Rs.27.66 crore is yet to be paid.”

“During the search, evidence has been detected indicating that the onetime settlement of the loan from J&K Bank has been done through the active connivance of a senior J&K Bank officer who was receiving several out of turn promotions. Furthermore, evidence has also been unearthed indicating that the repayment of Rs 50.34 crore pertaining to the said loan has been green fielded by the J&K Bank by granting loan of similar amount to an associate who has confessed to his role in layering the entire transaction,” she said.

“During the search, incriminating evidence has also been found relating to: sale of undisclosed property amounting to Rs 22 crore, agreement to sell Transport business for Rs.9.10 crore, undisclosed profit of Rs 15 crore to Rs 20 crore on account of sale of Cold Storage plant at Lassipora. The cost of this project was found to have been inflated to Rs 47 crore instead of the actual cost of Rs 17 crore, for claiming more subsidy from the government by raising inflated and bogus bills,” she added.

“The loan for this project was taken from J&K Bank. undisclosed properties at Sonmarg (Rs.2.68 crore), Pahalgam (Rs.3.55 crore) and Bangalore (Rs.1.00 crore). one shop in partnership in Delhi purchased for Rs.1.02 crore. During the search, digital evidence found has been seized, analysis of which is in progress.”

The official, who provided the information, said such raids will continue.

Sheikh Imran, who recently joined People’s Conference led by Sajjad Lone, has mostly remained in news for his altercations with Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu, who also belongs to PC.  His joining PC came as a surprise as he won ULB elections as independent candidate and was later backed by the Congress to claim post of Deputy Mayor.

Sheikh Imran who runs his business under the name of Kehwah Group was once declared by the J&K Bank as defaulter who owed bank over Rs 100 crore. However, later Imran claimed to have settled his loans.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor, Sheikh Imran said he will provide full cooperation to the I-T Department.

“I am fully supportive of all investigations to ensure transparency and adherence to income tax laws. I extend my full cooperation to the I-T Department. I’m a law abiding businessman and will continue to ensure the laws are upheld,” he said.

Imran refused to divulge any further details about the questions being asked by the I-T sleuths.

The action comes in the backdrop of sacking of J&K Bank’s chairman Parvez Ahmed Nengroo on allegations of corruption, nepotism and favouritism and ACB probe.

The Anti Corruption Bureau was established in J&K a few months ago. The state government holds 59 percent stake in the J&K Bank.

After his removal, Nengroo in a Twitter post said he has absolutely no regret over his work and that he did his job “most diligently, honestly and in the best interest of the institution”.