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Black Money Milestone: Income Tax Raids in Odisha Set New Record with Rs 290 Crore Seizure

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The Income Tax (I-T) Department has set a new record by seizing an expected Rs 290 crore in “unaccounted” cash during raids targeting an Odisha-based distillery group and its associated entities. Official sources have deemed this the “highest-ever” black money haul in a single operation by any agency.

The tax department, employing approximately 40 large and small counting machines, has mobilized additional department and bank staff to expedite the counting process that commenced on December 6. The raids primarily targeted Boudh Distillery Pvt Ltd and others. To transport the seized cash to government banks in the state, more vehicles have been requisitioned by the department.

Notably, premises linked to Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Dhiraj Prasad Sahu, were also covered during the searches. Attempts to elicit a response from the MP and the distillery group have remained unsuccessful.

Tax authorities are currently recording statements from various company officials and other involved individuals. The counting of cash is anticipated to conclude by Saturday.

The total expected seizure of unaccounted cash is pegged at about Rs 290 crore, marking a significant milestone in the country’s enforcement actions against financial irregularities. Over Rs 250 crore in cash has already been seized, and the continuous depositing of cash into government bank branches in Odisha is ongoing, primarily comprising Rs 500 denomination notes.

This operation stands out as the highest-ever cash seizure conducted by any agency in the country against a single group and its affiliated entities. Of the total amount seized, nearly Rs 230 crore was discovered from 8-10 almirahs located at a company premises in Bolangir district, with the remainder found in locations such as Titlagarh, Sambalpur, and Ranchi.

The raids were initiated based on “actionable intelligence” regarding significant “out-of-book” sales and cash remittances by liquor distributors, sellers, and business groups. Prime Minister Narendra Modi acknowledged the development, emphasizing in a social media post on Friday, “Countrymen should look at the pile of these notes and then listen to the honest ‘speeches’ of their leaders….Whatever has been looted from the public, every penny will have to be returned; this is Modi’s guarantee.”

Meanwhile, the ruling BJD in Odisha welcomed the tax raids, while the political blame game ensued, with conflicting statements from Jharkhand BJP and Congress leaders regarding the ownership of the seized money. The situation suggests a complex web of financial dealings involving both political parties and the implicated businessman.

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