I-T Dept seizes bungalow, funds of Ratul Puri & his father

The Income Tax department has seized a Rs.300-crore bungalow in Delhi under the anti-Benami law in its probe against Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. The tax department also seized foreign funds worth $40 million.

The bungalow, located at APJ Abdul Kalam Road in Delhi’s posh Lutyens’ zone, is in the name of a firm of the Moser Baer group, owned and promoted by Ratul Puri’s father Deepak Puri.

In April, tax officials conducted raids at Ratul Puri’s companies and had said they had found documents of illegal transactions and tax evasion worth Rs. 1,350 crore. It was on the basis of these raids that the tax department initiated proceeding under the anti-Benami law.

Sources in the I-T department said they also found unsecured loans to the tune of Rs. 370 crore.

I-T Dept seizes bungalow, funds of Ratul Puri & his father
Deepak Puri (Left) Ratul Puri (Right)

“The immovable property at APJ Abdul Kalam Road was purchased utilising a foreign direct investment of USD 3 million from a British Virgin Islands based shell company, Bronson Financial Inc. on a long-term basis for the purpose of software development in 2002,” the income tax department said in a statement.

“Investigation revealed that unaccounted funds of promoters were roundtripped through BVI based shell entity. The recipient company never commenced its business of software development. Instead, entire FDI was diverted for the acquisition of house for use by the promoters Ratul Puri and his family. The market value of this property is estimated to be more than Rs 300 crores,” it said.

The $40 million Foreign Direct Investment seized was invested in Cobol Technologies Private Limited of Deepak and Ratul Puri, by a Bermuda-based firm Pangea Emerging Infrastructure Fund Ltd, the tax department said.

The fund has also been used to route commissions from defence contracts through a web of shell companies in tax havens.

Ratul Puri is also being probed in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case by the Enforcement Directorate on charges of money laundering. A Delhi court on Friday issued a non-bailable warrant against Ratul Puri, after the probe agency told the court that he was non-cooperative and untraceable.

Hours after a Delhi court issued a Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) against Ratul Puri on Friday, he denied his involvement in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam and called the issuance of the warrant as “unfortunate”. The case pertains to alleged irregularities in the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers from Italy-based Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland. The deal was scrapped by the NDA government in 2014 over the alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of payment of kickbacks for securing the deal.

Earlier this week, the court had dismissed an anticipatory bail plea by him in the case.

Last month, Income Tax department had attached Rs. 254 crore worth of “benami” or proxy-owned equity of Ratul Puri which he had allegedly received from a suspect in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case via shell companies.