Bengaluru: In a major haul of cash and gold, the Income Tax Department on Saturday unearthed Rs 5.7 crore in new 2,000 currency notes, Rs 90 lakh in old notes and a whopping 32 kg gold and jewellery from a secret chamber inside a bathroom in Karnataka.
The development comes hours after Rs 24 crore, also in new notes, were recovered from a government contractor`s car in Tamil Nadu today, officials said.
An official in Bengaluru said the recovery was made from a hawala operator in a small town in central Karnataka on Friday. The seizure included 28 kg of bullion in gold biscuits, 4 kg of gold and jewellery and Rs 90 lakh in 100 and 20 rupee notes.
"They were found stashed in a secret chamber of a bathroom in the house of the hawala operator at Challakere in Chitradurga district during search operations," said the official.
Challakere is over 200 km from Bengaluru with a population of about 50,000.
The tax department`s investigation wing searched the premises of casino operators and bullion traders in Hubballi and Chitradurga districts of the state following a tip-off that black money was being converted into white through laundering and hoarding.
"When teams of sleuths searched 15 places in the two districts, (the) hawala operator was found converting old notes and hoarding bullion using demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes," the official said.
Incriminating documents related to the illegal activities were also recovered during the raids and sent for analysing and investigating their content for evidence.
Searches continued till late Saturday.
This is the second major haul of currency and gold this month in Karnataka. On December 1, tax sleuths seized Rs 6 crore in cash and 7 kg gold from the residences of two state government engineers in Bengaluru.
Of the Rs 6-crore cash haul, Rs 4.7 crore were in Rs 2,000, Rs 30 lakh in now spiked 500 notes and Rs one crore in 100 and 50 notes. The 7 kg bullion in gold biscuits is valued at Rs 2 crore.
In Tamil Nadu, the Income Tax department said Rs 24 crore was recovered on the third day of raids on three businessmen -- J. Shekhar Reddy, Srinivasalu and Prem.
"We have seized cash valued at Rs 24 crore in Vellore," an IT official told IANS, adding the seized cash will be deposited with the Reserve Bank of India.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Friday said the IT department had seized Rs 96.89 crore cash in 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, and Rs 9.63 crore in new 2,000 currency along with gold weighing 127 kg worth approximately Rs 36.29 crore.
The big fish is said to be Reddy, from whose car the money was seized on Saturday. He is a contractor and has executed works for the Tamil Nadu government.
Reddy was also a Board Member of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). On Saturday, the Andhra Pradesh government removed him from the post following the raids and the seizure.
(With IANS inputs)