Puri was last week grilled by the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi in connection with the AgustaWestland helicopters purchase probe.
Bhopal: Income-tax sleuths on Sunday conducted pre-dawn searches in about 65 houses and business establishments of close aides and kin of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath at several places in and outside the state for suspected tax evasion and hawala transactions.
A team of about 200 I-T department and police officers swooped down on these premises around 3 am and recovered Rs 10-14 crore, official sources said. Premises in Indore, Bhopal, Goa and Delhi (Green Park) were raided and those being searched included Mr Nath’s former officer on special duty (OSD) Pravin Kakkad, former adviser Rajendra Miglani and executives linked to his brother-in-law’s firm Moser Bayer and his nephew Ratul Puri’s company, they said.
Mr Puri was last week grilled by the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi in connection with the AgustaWestland helicopters purchase probe.
Both Mr Kakkar and Mr Miglani had resigned from their posts just before the dates for Lok Sabha polls were announced, officials said. Mr Kakkad, a former MP police officer, had earlier served as OSD of former Union minister Kantilal Bhuria during the UPA regime.
Raids were also being conducted against Kolkata- based businessman Paras Mal Lodha, the sources added.
Mr Lodha was arrested by the ED on money laundering charges within days of demonetisation.
The department, this time, had a tip off about Mr Lodha-linked operatives making hawala transactions in connection with a money laundering case being pursued against Mr Nath’s brother-in-law Deepak Puri, official sources said.
Sources added there is a “strong possibility” that the cash recovered during the raid was meant to be used as an election inducement to fund political campaigns and bribe voters in the poll-bound state and in Delhi.
A preliminary report of the raids has been shared with the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the policy-making body of the I-T department, and the Election Commission in Delhi, the sources told PTI.
Searches in an apartment in Bhopal, owned by a man identified as Ashwin Sharma, yielded around `nine crore, papers detailing transfers of over two dozen IAS and IPS officers, and documents showing acquisition of farm houses and agriculture lands, said a member of the raiding party.
In Indore, the raids were conducted at Mr Kakkad’s residence in Vijay Nagar area and other places linked to him, sources said.
Searches were also conducted at Mr Kakkad’s house in Bhopal’s Nadir Colony and a couple of other places in the state capital, they said.
Officials said documents related to undisclosed transactions worth `281 crore are being scrutinised and a number of them have been seized.
Some costly liquor brand bottles, firearms have also been recovered from some premises being raided, they added.
The ruling Congress described the I-T raids as political vendetta. “It is intimidation of Congress ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha at the behest of the Centre,” AICC legal cell chairman and Congress candidate for Jabalpur LS constituency in MP Vivek Tankha said.
The BJP hit back saying thieves were now complaining against the “watchman”.
“Blackmoney worth crores was recovered during the Income-Tax department’s raid at the house of the private secretary of Kamal Nath. This has made one thing clear that those who are thieves have a complaint against the watchman,” said BJP’s national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.