By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, December 15, 2023: The Income-tax Department raids, which came to a close in the early hours of December 15, recorded the country’s highest-ever cash haul at Rs 351 crore. As many as 30-34 premises in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal were searched by the I-T department.

The raids were carried out against an Odisha-based distillery firm Boudh Distillery Pvt. Ltd. (BDPL) owned by a Congress MP’s family, and some linked entities, ended early Friday, capping ten days of searches. The searches against the BDPL and its linked entities were launched last week on December 6.

The taxman also searched the family house of Congress Rajya Sabha MP Dhiraj Prasad Sahu in Ranchi apart from a number of entities including distributors and some hawala operators during these 10-day-long searches, they said.

A final appraisal report of the entire operation has been sent as per procedure to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in Delhi by the field investigation unit, they said. The CBDT is the administrative body for the tax department.

Dheeraj Sahu on Friday said, “What is happening today makes me sad. I can admit that the money that has been recovered belongs to my firm. The cash that has been recovered is related to my liquor firms, it is the proceedings from the sale of liquor. This money has nothing to do with Congress or any other political party as is being said. The money is not all mine, it belongs to my family and other related firms. I-T has raided now; I will give account for everything.”

Some of the high-value cash seizures from the past include one from 2019 when the GST Intelligence raided a Kanpur-based businessman and seized cash to the tune of about Rs 257 crore and another instance where cash amounting to Rs 163 crore was unearthed by the I-T department during searches against a road construction firm at Tamil Nadu in July 2018.

The department, during this operation, deployed a ground scanning wheeled machine at Sahu’s house in Ranchi, with a monitor on top, to scan for valuables beneath the surface even as it brought in three dozen currency counting machines, and took the help of various banks and their staffers for counting the huge cash.

The officials said the counting machines failed multiple times as they were being continuously used and even by the fact that many notes were soiled leading to blocking of the infrared sensors that read the thread on the currency to tally the bunch placed inside.

Many notes bunches were counted twice or thrice as the notes were not clean and the teller (staffer counting the currency) had to run the process again to obtain the correct figure, the sources said. BJP members in Lok Sabha also raised the issue in the House on Monday. The Congress has distanced itself from the MP, claiming the party has nothing to do with his business.

“The Indian National Congress is in no way connected with the businesses of Dheeraj Sahu, MP. Only he can explain and should explain, how huge amounts of cash have been reportedly unearthed by the income-tax authorities from his properties,” AICC general secretary Communications Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X last week.

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