from The Bangalore Mirror
Tracking the source of investments for a proposed Rs 200 crore sugar factory of Belagavi-based Congress state women’s unit president Laxmi Ravindra Hebbalkar, has led the Income Tax (I-T) sleuths knocking on her doors. But a separate I-T team also conducted search of first-time minister and sugar baron Ramesh Laxman Jarkiholi’s office and residence in Gokak and Bengaluru. Both searches, conducted on Thursday, were for suspected tax evasion and routing of funds from cooperative banks for running their business.
Although conducted by different I-T teams – Bengaluru and Panaji units — the operations are said to be interlinked, officials said.
This is the first time post the 8/11 demonetisation that a Karnataka’s serving minister’s properties have been searched for suspected tax evasion and routing funds from cooperative banks for business investments.
I-T intelligence unit officials had initially put Congress state women’s unit president Laxmi Hebbalkar’s transactions under surveillance.
She is one of the four directors of Harsha Sugars Limited, which is registered with the Registrar of Companies in August 2014 (corporate ID U15122KA2014 PLC075717) and the activity is listed as: production, processing and preservation of meat, fish, fruit vegetables, oils and fats.
But political grapevine has it that Hebbalkar is sourcing funds for the proposed sugar factory and the I-T sleuths had been tracking the source of her investments. They had started tracking benami accounts operating in Belagavi and Gokak district cooperative banks, which led them to knock on the doors of Hebbalkar’s house in Belagavi on Thursday morning. Suspecting close financial links between Hebbalkar and Jarkiholi due to their political proximity and mutual connections, the minister’s properties too were searched.
The I-T officials suspect benami investments in Jarkiholi’s sugar factories, routed through co-operative banks.
“Laxmi (Hebbalkar) and Jarkiholi are in the sugar business and both are politically strong. We are checking tax evasions in sugar factories and the source of investment in the factories. We were tracking them for a while after getting leads that they are using village based co-operative societies and banks to route unaccounted money into their own companies. The cash deposits in various fictitious accounts are being verified,’’ highly placed official sources told Bangalore Mirror.
The searches also covered the minister’s brother Lakhan, two of his associates HD Mulla and Ali Attar in Gokak. Ali Attar alias Mohammed Ali Usamansab Attar is said to be one among the directors along with Laxmi Hebbalkar in Harsha Sugars Limited.
“This is the link that we are trying to expose along with other transactions between Hebbalkar and Jarkiholi,’’ sources said.
Jarkiholis were supposed to have funded her assembly and parliament elections, which she lost. Hebbalkar, who is also said to be close to a few power-wielding ministers, and is said to be is gearing up to set up a solar power plant.
On the other hand, small scale industries minister and district in-charge Ramesh L Jarkiholi is a sugar baron and comes from a family that started liquor business and graduated to sugar.
The Jarkiholis are powerful in the region with three brothers into politics. The 55-year-old, four-time MLA from Gokak, Ramesh Jarkiholi was inducted into the cabinet in the reshuffle June last.