I-T department conducts searches at Jindal office

The searches come a day after JSW Steel announced its ambitious expansion plans. With the expansion, the company is all set to become the country's largest steel maker by next month, surpassing state-run SAIL

Mumbai: The Income Tax (I-T) department today conducted searches at the business premises of steel giant Jindal Steel works here for alleged charges of tax evasion, reports PTI.

A team of I-T officials from the investigation and tax collection wings of the department reached the premises of the company and began scrutinising documents related to purchase orders and other financial dealings, sources said.

"It is part of routine survey being conducted by the income tax department. They have certain queries and we are fully cooperating with them. The survey is going on at only one office of ours at Lower Parel in Mumbai," JSW spokesperson Sharmila Banerjee told PTI.

"I can't comment on that," she said when asked about the queries being posed by the I-T department.

The department is also looking at records of the company's recent financial dealings related to diversification, sources said.

The searches come a day after JSW Steel announced its ambitious expansion plans.

With the expansion, the company is all set to become the country's largest steel maker by next month, surpassing state-run SAIL.

It would be commissioning the 3.2 million tonnes per annum blast furnace at its Vijaynagar plant in Karnataka.

After the new capacity addition, JSW will be able to produce 14.3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel, 0.4 million tonnes more than SAIL.

"Our expansion is on track. We should be starting our new blast furnace sometime in April end," JSW Steel's director marketing Jayant Acharya had told reporters in New Delhi on the sidelines of a steel conference.

At present, the company has a steel making capacity of about 7.8 MTPA at its Vijaynagar and Salem units.

It entered into a deal in December to acquire 41.29% stake in loss-making Ispat Industries having a capacity of about 3.3 MTPA.

By 2020, the Sajjan Jindal-led company is aiming to produce 34 million tonnes of steel annually with greenfield integrated steel plants coming up in West Bengal and Jharkhand.

It is also adding further capacities at the Vijaynagar and Salem units.

On the other hand, Steel Authority of India (SAIL) currently has a production capacity of about 13.8 MTPA and is aiming to expand it to over 60 MTPA by 2020.

Recently, JSW had announced plans to set up a new 2.3 MTPA cold rolling mill capacity in two phases at its Vijaynagar plant at an estimated investment of about Rs4,000 crore.

Asked about the status of its proposed 10 MTPA plant at Jharkhand, Mr Acharya said, "We are still looking for land and other clearances and approvals."


CBI to file charge-sheets against Raja, 2 companies by 31st March

The investigating agency has sent Letters Rogatory to some countries for probing the money trail in the 2G scam, but some progress had been made in case of Mauritius, KK Venugopal, a senior advocate representing the CBI informed the Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) informed the Supreme Court today that charge-sheets against former telecom minister A Raja and two companies will be filed by 31st March for their alleged involvement in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case. The apex court has also directed the agency to appoint a suitable senior advocate as special public prosecutor in the trial, reports PTI.

In its latest status report filed in a sealed envelope before a bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly, the CBI submitted that many new facts have come out during the probe into the scam.

"The main charge-sheet will be filed against A Raja and two companies by 31st March. This is only the beginning and many people and companies would also be charge-sheeted later on," senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the investigating agency, said.
Mr Venugopal told the court that many people, including the CEO of a telecom company, have been examined by the agency and Letters Rogatory have been sent to some countries for probing the money trail. He said some progress had been made in case of Mauritius.

He submitted that the agency is also probing a land deal in Chennai involving the Tatas and the DMK party.

The court, while going through the status report, referred to a company and asked, "Is it the same company which has association with Vodafone and (it) was also mentioned in the ED report?"

To that, Mr Venugopal replied, "Yes."

The court, in its order, directed the investigating agency to place before it transcripts of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia's telephonic conversation tapped by the IT department on the next date of hearing on 29th March.

It also asked the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to place the probe reports before it on that day.


IndiaFirst launches ‘LifeStore’—a tech-driven insurance process for tapping customers

IndiaFirst is differentiating itself with technology initiatives, that promise to offer a ‘virtual IndiaFirst’ to customers. It is going beyond the usual policy purchase and renewal online buying process offered by other insurers

IndiaFirst was the last company to enter the life-insurance business almost one year back. It is differentiating itself with a technology thrust to help numerous aspects like increasing financial literacy, simplicity of product details, transparency of detailed investment performance-the insurer has also submitted a Sharpe ratio, which is a measure of the excess return (or risk premium per unit of risk in an investment asset or a trading strategy), and an online customer service experience similar to online banking.

Dr P Nandagopal, managing director and chief executive officer, IndiaFirst Life Insurance, demonstrated to Moneylife via a live video call wherein a visitor accessing www.indiafirstlife.com can connect to a live video call and see the insurer's customer service personnel talking with the visitor about various products or any other required information.

This 'Do-It-Yourself' website for understanding and buying insurance is certainly a step towards empowering customers and taking insurance benefits literally to their homes. The focus is on harnessing the Web presence to attract customers by giving comprehensive information about products and its performance after purchase. It will also circumvent the need for opening many branches. The product details will be translated into eight regional languages in the next six months.

Another unique step is that the insurer also promises to put plus and minus points of its own plans on the website. The website currently has 'risk factors' mentioned for each plan, but they seem to be generic points. The insurer also wants to give detailed company information including solvency ratio to website visitors.

Going forward, the company wants to tap into mobile technology and kiosks to reach a wider client base. The insurer is aware that the Web approach may not be enough to attract customers from smaller towns and villages.  

LifeStore aims to help customers transact their insurance requirements on the back of authentic information, online advice, services and realistic expectations.
"Through LifeStore, we aim to reach out to millions of Internet users-a sizable number of which are either active and/or potential customers-thus widening the scope of the market across the country. The core objective behind launching LifeStore is to help simplify insurance and encourage customers to make their own decisions related to insurance through the power of the knowledge anytime and anywhere," said  Dr Nandagopal.
Through LifeStore, IndiaFirst will now be tapping the approximately 70 million Internet users in India. "The digital medium is a growing category and still untapped. This is one of our business priority areas and we are looking at further expanding to the mobile platform and interactive kiosks as well,'' he added.
This novel platform, loaded with all critical information on various products and company performance, will provide value-added services and also offer the convenience of online purchase. Besides, it will also educate customers about the tangible benefits of insurance and their overall financial planning.
"Keeping in line with our objective of continuously innovating and providing value-added services, we have introduced various features such as live video calls, product audio visuals, simple step-by-step comparison of products, details about how and where your money is being invested including details about the respective companies in the fund portfolio, etc.," said Dr Nandagopal.

Apart from simplifying insurance and reducing the fear factor concerning this category, Dr Nandagopal said, this will usher in the concept of transparency to the fore and increase channels for customers to reach insurance service providers.
Prior to the launching of LifeStore, IndiaFirst had launched 'Ask Apply Get' (AAG)-an innovative and customer-friendly process to buy life insurance in the most hassle-free manner over the counter in three minutes (after the customer decides to buy insurance).

The policy documents are also emailed in three minutes. IndiaFirst was also the first to introduce product videos as an integral part of their sales process to bring transparency into product information dissemination.
LifeStore and AAG challenge the established 'push' method of selling insurance (where a customer needs to be sold a policy) to developing a new paradigm of generating 'pull' (a customer coming and asking for an insurance policy and getting it in the fastest and most hassle-free way).
IndiaFirst Life Insurance is a joint venture between two of India's largest public sector banks-Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank-along with UK's leading risk, wealth and investment company, Legal & General.


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