After attack on Vadra, Centre puts sleuths on 73 Gujarat trusts
Sources said Serious Fraud Investigation Organization (SIFO), Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) have formed a multi-level task force to probe the alleged scam. The matter became a concern for the probe agencies when it was found that at least 15 trusts diverted foreign funds, with no substantiate papers to show where actually the funds were utilised.
‘We have received the names of the trusts and it was found that crores of rupees were siphoned during 2009 and 2011. In some of the trusts, we have found connections of some political leaders from Gujarat, while in some we have found fictitious address of foreign donors. We are not revealing the names of the trusts since the matter is highly confidential,’ a senior official at the MHA said.
When asked how they are going to initiate the probe since they have to piece together all evidence since 2009, the source said, ‘It was decided that before investigating the concerned officials of the trusts, we will question the Director of Income-tax (Exemptions) posted in Gujarat during that period. Once we get enough leads in the matter, the second stage will be to question the trusts officials and the background of people who had send the foreign contributions.’
As per Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), the trusts were supposed to maintain separate accounts in a designated bank. ‘However, in all cases rule was violated and no one knows where the funds were utilised. We are also probing the possibility of black money being pumped into the whole process,’ MHA sources said. ‘There is high possibility a hefty amount of black money was made legal in that period through dubious means,’ he added.
The probe on the Gujarat-based trusts is going to create a political furore in the midst of a clear mandate to the BJP and public acceptance of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who is also the chief minister of Gujarat.