CBI begins in-house probe into pay-off charges in AI during Praful Patel’s tenure

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had approached the probe agency through diplomatic channels informing them about the scandal and allegations made against Indo-Canadian businessman Nazir Karigar who claimed that he had paid a bribe of $250,000 to an aide of Praful Patel

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has begun an in-house probe into pay-off allegations concerning a $100 million Air India (AI) contract in 2007 when Praful Patel was Indian civil aviation minister, a charge which he has rubbished as “baseless and preposterous”, reports PTI.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had approached the probe agency through diplomatic channels informing them about the scandal and allegations made against Indo-Canadian businessman Nazir Karigar who claimed that he had paid a bribe of $250,000 to an aide of Mr Patel, official sources said Sunday. The contract has since been scrapped.

The CBI had recently asked the Canadian authorities for a statement from Mr Karigar, who, according to a Canadian newspaper, was to be prosecuted by the authorities in Toronto under the newly-legislated Foreign Public Officials Act.

Air India had floated a tender in 2006 for computerised passenger face recognition biometrics system and the businessman was representing CrypoMetrics company.

Mr Karigar had claimed that he had met Mr Patel through former Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor and allegedly paid the bribe amount to the minister’s aide for pushing the contract in favour of his company.

The contract was, however, scrapped after internal objections by officials of the Air India and the civil aviation ministry.

The written statement from Mr Karigar would be helpful to the CBI in carrying out further inquiry into the case, the sources said.

The alleged bribe scandal came to light after a report in this regard was published in a leading Canadian newspaper Globe and the Mail which also named Mr Patel, now a heavy industries minister, as an intended beneficiary of a $250,000 bribe supposed to have been given by Mr Karigar.

A final call about registering a case would be taken by the CBI after receiving a written statement from Mr Karigar, the sources said.

Mr Patel was not available for comments on Sunday but earlier he had written to prime minister Manmohan Singh terming the allegations as “baseless and preposterous”.

Mr Patel had said the claims of bribery appeared to be “a perfect con job” by somebody trying to convince his company that he could deliver a contract if he is paid.

The minister requested Mr Singh to direct Air India to forward all relevant information and documents of the tender to PMO or to any agency “nominated by you” and also wanted “factual position” to be conveyed to the authorities in Canada in order to avoid any embarrassment to the government or to him personally.

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22 crore high value transactions under I-T scanner

Under the I-T scanner are 15,23,728 individuals who made payments of Rs2 lakh or more against their credit cards in the same fiscal while 32,21,695 individuals who acquired mutual fund schemes of Rs2 lakh or more, bonds or debentures of Rs5 lakh and above, shares issued by companies worth Rs1 lakh and RBI issued bonds worth Rs5 lakh and more

New Delhi: In a major crackdown, the Income Tax (I-T) department has under its scanner more than 22 crore instances of high value transactions in the country and abroad which include unreported credit card operations and deals in real estate, reports PTI.

The department has obtained, through its data mining and intelligence tools, instances of unreported transactions involving an estimated amount over Rs2,000 crore.

“The department is on the job to verify all the details of these unreported deals and a major operation is already underway in the country,” a top I-T official said here.

The total deals under the probe lens are 22, 52,06,979, the official said.

The step is seen as a major drive to garner as much revenue as possible by the I-T before the fiscal closes and the budgetary target of Rs5.32 lakh crore is achieved.

According to the official data of the tax department, its officials are working on sale and purchase of house property by 6,23,384 individuals worth Rs30 lakh each.

These transactions were made during 2009-10 and 2010-11 financial years.

The department is also working on 27,50, 545 individual cases where cash deposits aggregating to Rs10 lakh or more were made in savings bank account during the same fiscal.

Under the I-T scanner are 15,23,728 individuals who made payments of Rs2 lakh or more against their credit cards in the same fiscal while 32,21,695 individuals who acquired mutual fund schemes of Rs2 lakh or more, bonds or debentures of Rs5 lakh and above, shares issued by companies worth Rs1 lakh and RBI issued bonds worth Rs5 lakh and more.

“These high value transactions have not been reflected on the I-T returns.

“The department has asked tax offices to get in touch with these taxpayers or individuals urging them to file the returns or revise them,” the official said.

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Govt may enhance tax deduction for housing loan in forthcoming Budget

In order to arrest the declining growth rate, industry associations have demanded raising the tax limit ceiling for housing loans. According to Ficci secretary general Rajiv Kumar the exemption should be harmonised with the rising interest rates and increased to at least Rs2.5 lakh

New Delhi: In a bid to boost housing sector credit, the government is contemplating to enhance income tax exemption up to Rs3 lakh paid as interest on housing loans in a year, from the existing limit of Rs1.5 lakh, reports PTI.

The government is considering raising the tax deduction limit for housing loan in the coming Budget, which is scheduled to be tabled on 16th March, sources said.

At present, a deduction of up to Rs1.5 lakh is available from taxable income towards interest on loan taken for house.

Besides, borrowers can enjoy exemption on payment of principal amount. However, it is part of exemption to savings capped at Rs1 lakh per annum.

With the property prices and interest rates rising with each passing year, there is need to revise the limit, sources said.

In order to arrest the declining growth rate, industry associations have demanded raising the tax limit ceiling for housing loans.

According to Ficci secretary general Rajiv Kumar the exemption should be harmonised with the rising interest rates and increased to at least Rs2.5 lakh.

“We recommended that the existing tax deduction limit on income tax of an individual should be increased from the current level of Rs2.5 lakh to at least Rs5 lakh,” CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee said.

Of this, Rs3 lakh should be towards interest payment to offset the impact of high interest rates, he said, adding the remaining Rs2 lakh should be exclusively towards principal loan repayment as the present limit of Rs1 lakh is already overcrowded with several other items.

Echoing views, Assocham and PHD chamber said that exemption limit needs to be raised both for interest and principal.

As per the Direct Taxes Code (DTC), which would replace the decades old Income Tax Act, there is income tax exemption for up to Rs1.5 lakh paid as interest on housing loans in a year.

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