Karnataka elections 2018: Cash, jewellery seizure 3 times more than last year, says EC

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BENGALURU: As Karnataka gears up for assembly polls, the value of cash and jewellery seizure by the income tax department there has gone up three times to about Rs 25 crore in the state as compared to the last elections, the Election Commission (EC) said on Monday.
The EC said it has also been found that the “bulk of cash seized during operations in the present assembly elections has been meant for distribution.”
During the last assembly polls in 2013, the tax department had seized Rs 4.97 crore of cash and jewellery worth Rs 3.41 crore during the “entire” campaign period, the EC said.
“Total cash seizures (as part of the ongoing poll campaign) as on April 30 is Rs 19.69 crore and unexplained jewellery of Rs 4.81 crore has been made by the investigation wing of the income tax department in Karnataka since the start of the assembly election related surveillance,” the poll body said in a statement here.
There is still over a week more of campaigning left for the May 12single-phase polls in the state.
“The probe wing of the ITD has been doing intensive surveillance and monitoring activities in the state. For the first time, teams with statutory powers and sufficient resources in terms of manpower, vehicles among others has been posted in each district of the state,” the EC said.
It added that the tax sleuths, as part of this election-related drive, searched a candidate, on April 28-29, who is contesting the polls on a party ticket and he and his family have declared an income of Rs 18 crore post the raids.
The tax department is now conducting valuation of Rs 191 crore worth properties of this candidate, whose identity was not disclosed.
The action was taken against him, it said, based on “verification of his poll affidavit and some specific intelligence about cash transactions.”
“It was found that the contesting candidate is a non-filer (of IT returns) since assessment year 2012-13 but had declared some income in his election affidavit.
“He put a remark in the affidavit that online filing of IT return has been blocked by the ITD and hence he could not file his return and has paid self assessment tax,” it said.
The EC said that the candidate’s contention that filing of e-ITRs was blocked is incorrect.
“There are substantial discrepancies between income declared by his wife in her return of income filed, declared in affidavit and actually detected during the search,” it said.
The Commission said the candidate “accepted” that five assets of his family members were not declared by him in the election affidavit.
In an another instance, the EC said, raids were carried out against a person in state capital Banagalore who was “funding certain candidates of a particular party” and after 32 hours of sustained action, Rs 3.18 crore cash was seized, that included Rs 2 crore from a car parked near the person’s residence.
As part of this action, unaccounted cash of Rs 4.01 crore and 6.5 kg jewellery were seized by the taxmen during searches conducted against three contractors in Bengaluru,Davangereand Mysore.
The tax department has said that it has found evidence of inflation of purchases, payments to bogus sub contractors, inflated and fraudulent labour payments, and unaccounted cash payments during these searches in Karnataka.
The counting of votes for the 224 elected seats in the Assembly is scheduled for May 15.