I-T raids on liquor breweries enter day 5; ₹300 cr recovered so far, say officials | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

I-T raids on liquor breweries enter day 5; 300 cr recovered so far, say officials

ByDebabrata Mohanty
Dec 10, 2023 01:08 PM IST

IT officials said during the raids on one of the country liquor breweries in Bolangir’s Sudapada area, they found a polythene packet containing Rs.5 lakh in currency notes and the name ‘Inspector Tiwari’ mentioned on the packet

Fresh IT raids on country liquor breweries in Odisha’s Bolangir district resumed on Sunday morning as bank officials doubled down their efforts in counting the currency notes in the distillery and country liquor breweries linked to Congress MP Dheeraj Sahu from Jharkhand.

Rs.300 crore has so far been recovered in multiple IT raids (Twitter Photo)
Rs.300 crore has so far been recovered in multiple IT raids (Twitter Photo)

On Sunday morning, IT raids at the country liquor breweries of Buntu Sahu and Rajesh Sahu, close to the family members of Baldeo Sahu & Group of Companies, the partnership firm of Boudh Distillery Pvt Ltd (BDPL), which owns and operates distillery plants in Odisha apart from several microbreweries resumed with reports of more cash being recovered.

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On Saturday, wads of currency notes were found in Sudapada brewery in Bolangir district from an iron chest. The Income Tax department had said that it had counted cash worth Rs.300 crore and expected the seized money to be around Rs.350 crore, with more counting machines pressed to count the seized currency notes.

On Friday night, dozens of bags filled with currency were seized from the Balangir house of liquor trader Bunty, an associate of Ritesh, who is the MD of Boudh Distillery Pvt Ltd.

A 12-member team was divided into separate groups, who took part in the simultaneous raids. About four Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawans also were deployed to assist the raid teams at BDPL.

Also Read: I-T dept expedites counting of cash recovered in raids on Odisha-based distillery group, Cong MP under lens

Following the seizure, the I-T department brought the cash bags and sacks loaded in a large truck to the State Bank of India’s Bolangir branch.

The IT officials also brought in Bunty and Rajesh to the State Bank of India (SBI) Bolangir where the cash was being counted by over 50 officials using at least four dozen counting machines.

In the SBI branches of Titlagarh and Sambalour, the officials have so far counted currencies of nearly Rs.50 crore while in SBI Bolangir main branch, Rs.140 crore of cash have been counted from around 100 bags.

Bhagat Behera, regional manager of SBI, Bolangir, said, the cash counting may go on till Monday. “Though we have enough machines, they are heating up due to continuous counting. As bankers, we have never used machines for hours like this. Many currency notes are sticking to each other due to mildew deposits and so we are using dryers to separate the notes that have clung together,” he said.

Meanwhile, I-T officials said during the raids on one of the country liquor breweries in Bolangir’s Sudapada area, they found a polythene packet containing Rs.5 lakh in currency notes and the name ‘Inspector Tiwari’ mentioned on the packet. “We think the person may either be from the excise department or local police. We would interrogate officials from the excise department,” the official said refusing to be named.

A special 20-member I-T analysis team from Hyderabad joined the investigation to scan through the computer hard disk and other electronic items recovered during the raid.

Even as the raids were continuing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Saturday conducted press conferences in different parts of the country alleging that the money seized was indicative of the Congress’s corruption.

In Jharkhand, from where Dheeraj Sahu is Rajya Sabha MP, BJP leader Babulal Mirandi has alleged that the money belonged to chief minister Hemant Soren.

I-T personnel first raided Boudh Distilleries Private Limited in Boudh district of Odisha on December 6 morning over reports of tax evasion and later searched the premises of Baldeo Sahu and Group of Companies in other places of Odisha, Jharkhand and Bengal.

Headquartered in Odisha, the Boudh Distillery Private Limited comprises 4 companies - Boudh Distillery Private Limited, Baldeo Sahu Infra Private Limited which makes Fly Ash bricks, Kwality Bottlers Private Limited (IMFL Bottling) and Kishore Prasad Bijay Prasad Beverages Private Limited (Sales & Marketing of IMFL brands).

Also Read: BJP’s Amit Malviya attacks Congress over IT raids at Dhiraj Sahu’s company premises: ‘Corruption Ki Dukaan’

The I-T department officials said they had suspicions over the company’s inconsistent and low net profits between 2019 and 2021 inflated expenses towards the purchase of mahua/other articles and suspicious other payable shown in the balance sheet.

Of the Rs.300 crore seized, Rs.250 crore was confiscated from several almirahs at the BDPL’s premises in Bolangir district, while the remainder was seized from locations in Titlagarh, Sambalpur, and Ranchi. However, no one has been arrested so far.

The raids have been initiated following “actionable intelligence” regarding significant “out of book” sales and cash remittances by liquor distributors, sellers, and business groups, the agency had said earlier.

The IT officials confirmed that the cash seizure in Odisha, Jharkhand and Bengal is the highest-ever made by any agency in the country against a single group and its connected entities.

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