Rs 14,000 crore default case: Will Mahesh Shah reveal name of one big fish?

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Mahesh Shah, an Ahmedabad-based real estate broker, is giving sleepless nights to people in Gujarat and outside, as he is reported to have submitted a list of individuals – the real faces behind the 13,860-crore worth of black money, which he declared under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) for an undisclosed commission.

After his dramatic emergence at a TV news channel studio in Ahmedabad, Shah made explosive revelation that he was merely a ‘front man’ and the money belonged to ‘a mix of big people like businessmen, politicians and officers’.

“What I did was wrong. But I was in need of money. I did this for commission. All this is not my money. I will name all those who owned these amounts. The total amount could further go up. I will share all names with the I-T Department. But I am worried about peace and safety of my family,” said Shah at a live televised interview on Saturday evening. The money is understood to be stored in multiple cities across the India.

“I am not a fugitive. My family doesn’t know anything related to my work,” he said, adding “Sab bohot jaldi samne aayega. (Everything will be clear to the public very soon).”

Officials said the process of recording his statement is likely to continue on Monday even as city police deployed two guards outside his residence apprehending security threat.

“Shah’s statement has been recorded partially. During the interrogation, he was provided adequate rest looking at his medical condition. As per his request, the process of recording his statement temporarily concluded today morning,” said Director of Investigations in I-T department P C Mody.

Income tax searches were conducted on Shah’s office and residential premises on November 29, 30 and December 1 after he failed to pay the first instalment of tax due – Rs 1,560 crore – on the declaration of Rs 13,860 crore he made under the IDS.

“Those whose money was disclosed under the IDS backed out at the last moment, so I could not pay the first instalment of tax to the income tax department,” he said.

Asked by the channel’s anchors if the money belonged to any businessman or politician, Shah said it belonged to “several persons”.

He, however, refused to reveal the names, saying he would do that only in front of income tax officials.

Shah was missing from the day searches were carried out at his premises. He was supposed to pay Rs 1,560 crore, which is 25 per cent of 45 per cent tax on the disclosed amount, as the first instalment. Though November 30 was the last date, he failed to deposit the instalment with I-T department.

When I-T department conducted an inquiry, they started doubting Shah’s capacity to pay the instalment by the due date. Thus by November 28, I-T department cancelled his IDS Form-2 and initiated search operations the next day.

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