Bengaluru: In the biggest-ever seizure of cash in new currency, Income Tax officials on Thursday found and seized a whopping Rs 6.6 crore in cash and 7 kg gold from the residences of two state government engineers and two contractors in the Bengaluru and other locations.
Yesterday, reports had said that the amount of cash seized was Rs 6 crore. However, today the amount was raised to Rs 6.6 crore.
The Income Tax department said it detected unaccounted income worth Rs 152 crore after it conducted searches in a dozen premises in Bengaluru, Chennai, and Erode (Tamil Nadu).
Out of Rs 6.6 cash haul, Rs 5.7 crore were in the Rs 2,000 new notes and Rs 90 lakhs in old notes.
The 7 kg bullion and about 9 kg jewellery valued at approximately Rs 5 crore were found in the raid.
Several property documents were also found.
The major haul was from a posh flat of Public Works Department engineer SC Jayachandra at upscale Sanjaynagar in the city's northwest suburb.
"A search action was initiated on Wednesday by the investigation directorate in the case of two engineers and connected persons in Bengaluru, Chennai, and Erode, in which the new notes and bullion are learnt to have been obtained by exchange of demonetised notes by payment of commission," said Alex Mathew, Income Tax Officer of Karnataka in a statement here.
The investigation is in progress and the search action is continuing in 10 premises across the three cities, including two in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu state.
The tax sleuths had also seized some notes of Rs 100, demonetised notes of Rs 500 and a few gold biscuits during the operation, they said, adding the department had to call in note counting machines and additional staff to ascertain the value of the cash.
The seizure of the new currency notes of Rs 2,000 is said to be the highest since it was introduced after the November 8 demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
The sleuths also attached a Lamborghini and Porsche limousines of Jayachandra, parked in the basement of his multi-storey apartment.
What has surprised the tax authorities is the sheer amount of new currency stashed by these individuals at a time when new notes are not available to the common public which is queueing up to withdraw even small amounts from their accounts.
The department has also found a number of identity cards of various individuals from the searched premises which could have been used to illegally change the old currency with new ones.
Only on Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had seized Rs 10 lakh cash in new notes of Rs 2,000 from the premises of a Kolkata-based doctor. The agency conducted nationwide search operations yesterday at 40 locations and seized about Rs 1 crore in new notes.
Both the I-T department and the ED, along with other enforcement agencies and police, are undertaking these operations after reports of instances of illegal exchange of old currency and stashing of new currency notes to perpetrate hawala and money laundering like activities.