Mumbai, Feb 12: The Income Tax department's Criminal Investigation wing has identified 2,000 Indian citizens who hold properties in Dubai but had failed to declare it in their IT returns.
In its ongoing crackdown on black money, the agency has identified Indian citizens who purchased properties in Dubai but failed to declare and explain the source of funds used to purchase these properties.
In the past few years, people have used shell companies to route illegal money and buy overseas properties to evade income tax.
However, the tax department has now increased its efforts to track down those involved in major tax evasion cases.
The 2,000 persons and companies identified mainly include businessmen, top professionals, and government officials.
The IT department will initiate action against the accused under the Black Money Act.
Citizens who own properties outside the country but fail to declare the source of funds or income used for the purchase could be prosecuted under the Black Money Act.
Under Section FA (Foreign Assets) of the Income Tax Act, an individual has to declare purchase and ownership of properties, assets, companies owned outside the country while filing the income tax returns annually.
In the recent drive against black money, the IT department identified 2,000 Indian nationals who failed to provide information on the same while filing IT returns.
Of the 2,000 citizens owning properties in Dubai, around 600 could not furnish details regarding purchase details.
Those who haven't been able to explain the source of funds used for the purchase of properties could be prosecuted and their properties can be attached by the agency.
Other than the attachment of the property, they can face a monetary penalty up to 300 per cent of the property value and also face imprisonment under the Black Money Act.
The properties owned by Indians in Dubai raised red flags as this pattern of parking money is used by money launderers, smugglers, underworld gangsters and drug traffickers for making payments.
It is worth mentioning that of the 2,000 citizens identified, most are residing in Mumbai, followed by Kerala and Gujarat.
The clause under section FA (foreign Assets) came into effect in the year 2011-12 and it is mandatory for people owning properties outside India to declare it in their IT returns.
Those identified by IT department could also face action under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) by the Enforcement Directorate under Section 4.
Recently the Enforcement Directorate (ED) launched a crackdown on black money parked overseas by tracking and identifying immovable assets bought overseas by Indian nationals illegally.
The move is being carried out under rules laid down under Section 4 of FEMA (Foregn Exchange Manipulation Act), 1999. Section 4 of FEMA states that no person resident in India shall acquire, hold, own, possess or transfer any foreign exchange, foreign security or any immovable property situated outside India.
On January 17, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted searches at the residence of a former chief engineer of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in connection with an inquiry related to FEMA.
In the raids, the ED officials recovered documents related to the purchase of a property in Dubai in an allegedly illegal manner.
The ex-BMC chief engineer was posted with some of the most crucial wings of the municipal corporation -- the building proposal department and development plan department.
The agency did not disclose the name of the ex-BMC chief engineer but it has been learnt that he had superannuated around seven years ago from the municipal corporation.
ED, in a statement, said incriminating documents with regard to illegal acquisition of a property held in Dubai was recovered during the search operation.
The former BMC chief engineer has stated that he had purchased the property in Dubai at 'Park Island, Bonaire Marsa, Dubai' for Rs 70 lakh in 2012. The property is held jointly in his name, his spouse and son.
The retired BMC officials could not furnish any documents which would help ascertain the value of the property and also could not provide details on how the payments were made to buy the property in Dubai.
The citizens identified by the IT department recently also adopted a similar route to buy property in Delhi. It remains to be seen how the income tax department plans to penalise them.