2 Gurugram firms caught with huge bogus transactions
By Deepak Arora
CHANDIGARH, March 19- While taking stern action against the two Gurugram based private firms for their involvement in the huge bogus transactions under the VAT regime, the Haryana Government has not only got an FIR registered against the firms, but also constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter.
While stating this here today, a spokesman of Excise and Taxation Department said that these firms included M/s Vipin Enterprises, Gurugram and M/s Uma Traders, Gurugram (East).
He said that while M/s Vipin Enterprises, Gurugram was found claiming Input Tax Credit (ITC) of VAT to the tune of over Rs 41.78 crore and of Central Excise to the tune of over Rs 7.37 crore totaling to over Rs 49.16 crore, M/s Uma Traders, Gurugram (East) was found claiming ITC in VAT to the tune of over Rs 42.38 crore and in Central Excise to the tune of over Rs 8.05 crore totaling to over Rs 50.43 crore through TRAN-1 furnished in the month of September 2017 under the GST regime.
The spokesman said that the M/s Vipin Enterprises, Gurugram was found making fraudulent claims of ITC on intra-State purchases in a web of operations with many other firms. He said that the enterprise was not traceable at given address and proprietor of the firm Vijay could also not be traced. An effort was made to contact the said proprietor at the given mobile number but on True Caller Mobile App, the said phone number of Vodafone Telecom Operator is shown to belong to one Mr Rakesh Arora, Delhi but the person responding from the other side disclosed his name Hemraj and expressed ignorance about either Rakesh Arora or Vijay.
He said that the original record of the registration of the firm is not traceable in the Gurugram office. He said that the dealer had furnished sureties of two firms namely M/s Pooja Gallery and M/s Shree Shyam Plastic Agency. The first surety was found non-existent and the second surety found to be a petty dealer and denied having given surety to the firm. He said that the surety M/s Pooja Gallery is not in existence but the mobile number of the firm as registered in VAT regime is found to be same as that given by M/s Vipin Enterprises. He said that the M/s Vipin Enterprises has registered the mobile number while migrating from VAT regime to GST regime and five other taxpayers have registered on that mobile number in GST regime.
The spokesman said that M/s Uma Traders, Gurugram (East) was registered under the VAT Act with liability to pay tax with effect from September 25, 2014. It had filed the first, second and third quarterly return for the 2015-16 and declared a turnover of over Rs 3.03 crore, nil and over Rs 43.92 crore respectively. He said that no return for the assessment year 2016-17 and first quarter of assessment year 2017-18 has been filed. He said that the dealer neither paid any tax in all three quarters nor did he pay tax on value enhancement that is VAT. Moreover, in first quarter, value enhancement as shown through sales are very much high as compared to the purchases made which is not possible in normal business practice. In GST regime, the dealer has filed GSTR-3B and GSTR-1 for the month of July 2017 only.
He said that M/s Uma Traders, Gurugram (East) has discharged his output tax liability in IGST of over Rs 2.61 crore by utilising ITC during the period for July 2017 of over Rs 2.61 crore. Apart from this, the dealer has also discharged the output tax liability in State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) and Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) of over Rs 15.33 lakh in each head by utilising the ITC of Rs 30.66 lakh.
The spokesman said that the dealer had not filed the returns for the fourth quarters of 2015-16 and henceforth no quarterly return is filed by the dealer. He said that the credit of input tax of VAT regime cannot be allowed as per section 144(1) (ii) of Haryana Goods 150 and Services Tax Act, 2017 since the dealer has not furnished all returns required under existing law for a period of six months immediately preceding the appointed day.
He added that an internal inquiry is also being conducted to identify the employees who had colluded in the registration of these entities or otherwise. He said that strictest possible action would be taken against them. He further added that the State Government is committed to identify any other entity of this type of tax evaders.
Ikea India appoints Peter Betzel as new CEO
BENGALURU, March 12: Swedish home furnishings company Ikea has announced the appointment of Peter Betzel as the new chief executive officer for its India business, said a company statement issued today. Betzel takes over from the outgoing India CEO Juvencio Maeztu, who moves into a global role as the CFO and deputy CEO, Ikea Group.
Betzel will take the lead for Ikea’s expansion into India beginning with the upcoming launch of the first store in the country in Hyderabad.
In India, apart from the growth-intensive plan, Betzel sees diversity and inclusion as key topics to focus on as the company will grow its workforce from 400 to 15,000 in the coming years.
“Over the last six years we have set up a strong foundation for Ikea’s presence in India. We are now ready to open our doors to enable Indians to create a better everyday life at home for themselves. To materialise our long-term vision for India, Peter is the best person to lead Ikea in India in the next phase as he is known by his visionary leadership, deep understanding of the retail world and his focus on both people and business together,” said outgoing CEO of Ikea India, Juvencio Maeztu.
"India is a vibrant, multi-cultural, multi-faceted and a really exciting market for Ikea. As I start my new role, I look forward to establishing the company as a meaningful, loved and trusted brand. I will be working with the local teams to bring in a unique global shopping experience offering good quality and affordable home furnishing products to a diverse set of consumers across the country,” said Betzel.
Bankers Chanda Kochhar, Shikha Sharma summoned in PNB fraud probe
MUMBAI, March 6: The heads of ICICI and Axis banks, Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma, were summoned for questioning Tuesday in the Nirav Modi-Mehul Choksi perpetrated Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.
The Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) summoned the country’s two top bankers as part of its ongoing probe in the nearly Rs 13,000 crore fraud in PNB. The summons were sent to seek clarifications only, sources indicated.
It is reported that ICICI Bank led a consortium of 31 banks that lent money to Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group. Top officers of all banks will be questioned for clarification.
Sources said that a consortium of 31 banks had given working capital facility to Mehul Choksi’s Gitanjali Group. The SFIO had earlier summoned PNB officials and now would question other bank officials too.
Earlier, the SFIO had issued letters to banks asking them explain the working capital facility given to the Gitanjali Group.
ICICI Bank has said it did not have any exposure to diamantaire Nirav Modi but that it had only lent working capital to the group.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday detained Vipul Chitalia, vice president, banking operations of Gitanjali Group of Companies, at the Mumbai airport for questioning.
A Mumbai special court on Saturday had issued non-bailable warrants against diamond traders Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi in connection with the PNB fraud.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has directed Nirav Modi to mandatorily join the investigation from next week after he claimed he could not cooperate as he has business commitments abroad.
The central investigating agency also asked the celebrity diamond merchant to contact the High Commission of the concerned country and said the CBI would arrange for his travel.
Nirav Modi, Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the fraud came to light recently following a complaint by the Punjab National Bank. The complaint alleged they cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 12,636 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.
Nirav Modi along with his wife Ami, brother Neeshal and Mehul Choksi left India in the first week of January before the Punjab National Bank accused them of committing the fraud. They have not returned to India since then.
Meanwhile, the government has revoked the passports of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
Several PNB officers, senior employees of the Giranjali group (owned by Mehul Choksi) and an auditor are already in custody.
PNB fraud: Loopholes in Indian banks’ systems were flagged, but not fixed
MUMBAI, March 6: A $2 billion fraud at India’s second-biggest state-run lender Punjab National Bank has raised questions around the auditing and regulatory oversight of the country’s banks.
Documents reviewed show the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had come across issues related to the misuse of the SWIFT interbank messaging system, and other loopholes in many banks’ information technology infrastructure, as early as mid-2016.
Many of these loopholes are only now being closed after the PNB case.
Here are details from a series of “confidential” letters from the RBI to the top management at banks, flagging loopholes and recommending solutions:
* On July 22, 2016, the day when state-run Union Bank of India reported a cyber breach, the RBI sent an email to all banks asking them to strengthen controls over payment instructions sent to other banks, and to reconcile their nostro accounts — accounts held in foreign currency at another bank overseas — on a “real time/near real time basis so that any abnormality is noticed immediately”.
* On August 3, 2016, the RBI sent a letter to banks reminding them about the July letter and asking them to immediately get their SWIFT system “comprehensively audited”, according to the letter reviewed by Reuters.
* It also detailed a set of “best practices” in an annex to the August letter.
* On November 25, 2016, the RBI sent another letter to banks saying it had found several “common deficiencies” in the way banks were using SWIFT, according to a copy reviewed by Reuters.
* In the letter, the RBI said a decentralised set up for SWIFT at several banks meant that as many as 1,000 users per bank in some cases had access to SWIFT. It warned this increased the probability of “compromise of credentials which in turn exposed the bank to heightened risk of fraudulent activities as well as potential malware attack”.
* The letter also criticised banks for not having robust oversight despite having a decentralised SWIFT system, and in particular flagged the access being given to junior officials.
* The RBI had also highlighted a lack of “straight through processing”, or a connection between most banks’ core accounting software with the SWIFT system - one of the main issues blamed for the alleged Punjab National Bank fraud.
* The RBI said there was no mechanism at most banks to verify whether every outward SWIFT message related to trade finance had a corresponding underlying letter of credit, and thus check if a letter of credit was being fraudulently issued.
* The RBI asked banks to reconcile all letters of credit they had issued through SWIFT and ensure that those were reflected in their accounts. Banks were asked to complete this task by February 28, 2017, and report back to the RBI by March 15, 2017.
* The RBI called for the banks to examine centralising the approval of SWIFT messages at the head office. It asked banks to explore linking their core banking software with SWIFT, although it did not set a deadline.
AFTER THE PNB FRAUD
* On February 20, 2018, the RBI sent a letter to the heads of all banks, again marked “confidential”, setting strict deadlines for more than two dozen actions, including the linking of SWIFT with the core banking system by April 30.
* It also mandated nostro reconciliation on a real-time basis, reconciliation of payment messages every one or two hours and tightening the rules around use of SWIFT.