I-T raid at Noida Axis Bank branch; 20 fake a/cs unearthed
Ever since the government announced the decision to demonetise the higher currency notes to crackdown on black money, the role of banks, especially the private ones in money laundering have been coming out. In this new phase, where common people are struggling hard to get the new currency, the bankers are opting illicit ways, trying to make huge profits by helping the black money holders in converting their money to white.
The income tax department made a secret raid at the suspected branch of Axis Bank in Noida Sector-51 on Thursday morning. The raid was made at around 10 am after following the financial trail of a jeweller from Noida, who allegedly sold gold bricks worth Rs 600 crore post currency ban. The I-T officials seized 20 bogus accounts running on the name of fake companies with deposits amounting to Rs 60 crore. After further investigation, the I-T officials found that those accounts were opened by collecting fake documents on the name of labourers, daily wagers and people from low income groups who were totally unaware of these accounts.
A large number of account holders gathered outside the bank as the bank operations were stopped for the day. A police team was also deployed outside the branch. The jeweller’s name has not been disclosed by the officials yet and the I-T team was still investigating other accounts till late evening.
Hundreds of crores have been unearthed in income tax raids in the past few weeks. The Enforcement Directorate had also arrested two Axis Bank managers in New Delhi in connection with a racket that was converting old currency notes into new ones.
Through sources we came to know that the black money in huge amounts of old currencies were deposited into such bogus accounts and then retransferred through RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement system) to the jeweller’s and other accounts. The racket involves some bank managers who do this conversion on commission basis. Drawing a salary of more than Rs 80,000, the greed of these accused bank managers was forcing them to go for this illegal way of converting black money into white against a commission of 1 per cent.
Axis Bank is in news for the last couple of days but this time it is not for good reasons. The bank, which is considered to be the third largest private lender, has recently been embroiled in controversies where employees of the bank are found to be involved in acts of money laundering. However, the bank has temporarily suspended the accounts of some bullion dealers and nearly 30 employees have also been suspended for violating rules.
Shikha Sharma, Managing Director and CEO of the bank said that the incidents are “isolated” cases and it is disappointing that a “handful” of people have let them down.
Meanwhile, a similar kind of raid was conducted at Axis Bank’s Connought Place branch by the Income Tax department on Thursday where bank records and other details were reportedly inspected by the department officials. The details, however, were not provided by the department.
Following the raid, a large number of account holders gathered outside the bank since they were not allowed inside during the day-long raid that began early morning. Police were deployed outside the bank branch. Earlier on December 9, tax officials seized over Rs 100 crore from 44 suspect accounts from an Axis Bank branch in the Chandni Chowk area in Delhi.