New Delhi, Oct 6

Two lakh suspicious companies had done account operations and post-demonetisation transactions depositing and withdrawing over Rs 4,550 crore, the government said on Friday, claiming a major breakthrough in the fight against black money and shell companies after it received information from 13 banks in this regard.

Suspicious companies numbering 209,032 had been struck off the Register of Companies earlier this year and operation of their bank accounts were restricted for discharge of their liabilities only, an official release said on Friday.

It said from November 9 last year, a day after demonetisation was announced, 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being struck off, these companies have altogether deposited a huge amount of Rs 4,573.87 crore in their accounts and withdrawn an equally large amount of Rs 4,552 crore. With loan accounts, there was a negative opening balance of Rs 80.79 crore.

"Disturbing factors have been identified of companies having multiple accounts with miniscule or negative balance as on November 8, 2016 which have then deposited and withdrawn amounts going in several crore from these accounts.

"The accounts were thereafter again left as dormant accounts with paltry balance. As mentioned earlier, 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," the release said.

For example, it said, in one of the banks, 429 companies having zero balance each as on November 8, 2016 deposited and withdrew over Rs 11 crore and left again with a cumulative balance of just Rs 42,000 as at the date of freezing.

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 From having a cumulative balance of about Rs 13 crore as on November 8, 2016, these companies have deposited and withdrawn about Rs 3,800 crore, leaving a negative cumulative balance of almost Rs 200 crore at the time of freezing of their accounts.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-emphasized 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 release said.

It said investigative agencies have been asked to complete necessary investigation in a time bound manner.

The release recalled that these 13 banks have submitted their First Instalment of data. The data received from them pertains to merely about 5,800 companies (out of more than 2 lakh that were struck off) involving 13,140 accounts.

"This in itself is a revealing figure. A 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 pertaining to the pre demonetisation account balances and transactions conducted from the accounts of these companies during the demonetization period is even more startling.

After separating the loan accounts, these companies were having a meagre Rs 22.05 crore in their credit on November 8, 2016.

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