Millennium Post

Ministry officials ‘aiding’ Lalit Modi promoted

Unusual are the ways of the Ministry of Finance which believes in rewarding officers working hand-in-glove with those accused of tax evasion. Millennium Post in its edition dated 14 May 2012 had reported about two senior officials of the department being hosted by disgraced former boss of IPL Lalit Modi. One of the officers in question, Ms Malsomi Sailo, has been rewarded for her action with the highly lucrative posting as Chief Commissioner Income Tax –I [Delhi CCA].

Read MP Exclusive story here: Modi plays host to IT sleuths

Sailo, who was then holding position of Director General IT [Intelligence and Criminal Investigation] and her colleague HV Mahanta, commissioner of investigation, visited London in January ostensibly on a personal visit but their tickets were paid out of the secret funds. During their stay in London they met Modi.

Following the news appearing in Millennium Post, a hornet’s nest was stirred in the Ministry of Finance and the government thought it prudent to shift the two officers out of the intelligence directorate. However, the Ministry order [no 113/2012] dated 7 June 2012 has handed to Sailo a plum assignment whereas any other officer facing such grave charge is sent on a non-serious assignment, said Ministry sources.

Millennium Post had reported that without taking any prior approval from the government or their department, these two income tax intelligence officials went to London and met Modi in a five-star hotel, spending money from their secret fund account. These two key officials then were responsible for carrying out major investigations on sensitive matters.

According to top external intelligence agency RAW sources, a former member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes [CBDT] was also present in the meeting as Modi’s adviser. The income tax department opened a case against Modi almost one and half years ago and was investigating tax evasion and money laundering to the tune of Rs 700 crore.

Sailo and Mahanta went to London on 23-24 January and came back on 27 January. In official records, it was shown as a personal trip. But, sources confirmed that they went and met Modi on 25 and 26 January, and their air travel was sponsored from the investigative wing’s secret fund. The investigating wing of the income tax department, after opening Modi’s case, sought permission of interrogating him in London almost one and a half years ago. But, that request was turned down by the CBTD as well as the law ministry and the Enforcement Directorate. According to them, any statement recorded in the UK will not have any legal validity under the Indian law. However, for recording statements, such senior officials cannot go do the UK. Generally, this task is carried out by officials of the rank of assistant directors or deputy directors.

However, a senior finance ministry official said that after the recent agreement with the UK, which came into effect from 15 June this year, the Indian intelligence authorities can record statement of any accused and carry out any investigation in that country. So, this sudden visit, before this agreement came into force, carries a lot of significance.

Sailo is a 1975-batch Indian Revenue Service [IRS] officer and Mahanta is a 1987-batch IRS officer. These officials are allowed to keep two passports, one for diplomatic purpose and the other for personal visits. And, in this case, they used their personal passports, claims a top finance ministry official.

RAW has also discovered a transaction of 8,00,000 UK pounds [approximately INR 40 crore], which was transferred from London to another foreign bank account. Top intelligence officials confirm that if they can track the complete details of this transaction, they might reach the bottom of the case.
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