New Delhi, Oct 6: Intensifying its crackdown on black money, the government today said it has collated information about 5,800 shell companies whose near zero- balance accounts saw nearly Rs 4,574 crore of deposits post note ban and Rs 4,552 crore withdrawal thereafter.
"Vital information has been received from 13 banks regarding the bank account operations and post-demonetisation transactions of some of the 2,09,032 suspicious companies that had been struck off the Register of Companies earlier this year," the government said in a statement on Friday. Last month, the government imposed restrictions on operations of bank accounts of over 2 lakh struck-off companies.
Terming it as a "major breakthrough" in fight against black money and shell companies, it said the first instalment of data pertains to about 5,800 companies -- out of more than 2 lakh that were struck off -- involving 13,140 accounts. "Few of the companies have been found to have more than 100 accounts to their names. The highest grosser among these is a company having 2,134 accounts, followed by others having accounts in the range of 900, 300 etc," it said.
The data on pre-demonetisation accounts and transactions conducted during the cash ban period is "startling", the government stated. After separating the loan accounts, these companies had a meagre balance of Rs 22.05 crore on November 8, 2016. "However, from November 9, 2016 (after the announcement of demonetisation), till the date of their being struck off, these companies have altogether deposited a huge amount of Rs 4,573.87 crore in their accounts and withdrawn an equally large amount of Rs 4,552 crore," the statement said. With loan accounts, there was a negative opening balance of Rs 80.79 crore in these accounts. Companies had multiple accounts with minuscule or negative balance as on November 8, 2016, which have seen deposits and withdrawal running into several crores. The accounts were thereafter again left as dormant with paltry balance. "This exercise of swindling the authorities was carried out post demonetisation till the companies were struck off. In some cases, certain companies have gone more adventurous and made deposits and withdrawals even after being struck off," it said.
Citing an example, it said that in one of the banks, 429 companies having zero balance each on November 8, 2016, deposited and withdrew over Rs 11 crore and left again with a cumulative balance of just Rs 42,000 as on the date of the freeze. Similarly, in the case of another bank, more than 3,000 such companies -- most having multiple accounts -- have been located.
From having a cumulative balance of about Rs 13 crore as on November 8, 2016, these companies have deposited and withdrawn about Rs 3,800 crore, leaving a negative cumulative balance of almost Rs 200 crore at the time of freezing of their accounts. "It needs to be re-emphasised that this data is only about 2.5 per cent of the total number of suspected companies that have been struck off by the government. The huge money game played by these companies may well be the tip of an iceberg of corruption, black money and black deeds of these and many more of their brethren," the statement said. Investigative agencies have been asked to complete necessary investigation in a time-bound manner. After being removed from the list, operations of the bank accounts of 2,09,032 suspicious companies were restricted for discharge of their liabilities only.