New Delhi (Urban Transport News): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has recently charged the former top officials of IL&FS, including its chairman Ravi Parthasarathy, Ramesh C Bawa, Hari Sankaran, K Ramchandaran, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and conducted searches across several of its offices. A first information report (FIR) was filed by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police in December last year.
Later after the investigation by ED, it has been revealed that the IL&FS siphoned out roughly Rs.300 crores over a period of several years through fake work orders issued as part of the construction of the Gurgaon RapidMetro. IL&FS and its subsidiaries completed construction of both phases of the Gurgaon RapidMetro, in 2013 and 2017, respectively. FIR revealed that the IL&FS’ subsidiary, IL&FS Rail Infra issued work orders to a string of companies for non-existent work, namely Silverpoint Infratech, Suryamukhi Projects, NKG Infrastructure, Divyanshi Infra Project and Ethical Construction, among others.
“The task assigned to these bogus companies was to generate cash and hand over the same to the persons accepting those bogus invoices as genuine,” stated in the FIR. The Income Tax Department has noticed the discrepancy first time in May 2018 and had issued a demand notice to IL&FS Rail, seeking clarity on unexplained expenditure. Income Tax department had found that Silverpoint Infratech did not have proper office or staff to execute such infra project of the Gurgaon Metro. “The income tax raised concern that company having a gross receipt of Rs 251 crore would have the meagre expenditure of only Rs 22 lakh on salaries.
In the assessment of IL&FS Rail, they failed to provide even measurement book duly signed by site engineer,” stated in the FIR. According to the FIR and the show-cause notice issued by the Income Tax Department to IL&FS Rail, which pegs the total amount of unexplained expenditure at Rs980 crores. The show cause notice says IL&FS Rail was not able to explain the expenditure. According to the FIR by ED, Sanjay Kumar Drolia, Managing Director of Silverpoint Infrapoint (one of the companies working with IL&FS), categorically accepted that he and his company was involved in providing the accommodation entries to earn commission income to the tune of 0.5 percent.
The ED has recently arrested him. “It is on the account of such fake invoices that the cost of the projects implemented by the company are significantly higher than the comparable project of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC),” stated in the FIR. Gurgaon Metro is incurring losses year after year. In the financial year ended 31st March 2017, the aggregate income from operation of the company was Rs 46.41 crore and it paid interest cost of Rs.137.4 crore and even after taking into account non-operational income, it resulted in a loss before tax of Rs 116.27 crore.
The FIR, in this case, was filed following a complaint by Ashish Begwani, Director of Enso Infrastructure Private Limited, which holds a 15 percent stake in IL&FS Rail Limited. Interestingly, the Income Tax Department in its notice said that “Ashish Begwani is a well-known facilitator of accommodation entries as well as hawala services” and that even IL&FS Rail MD Rajiv Banga was not able to explain Begwani’s source of capital in Enso Infra.