Lalu’s kids face heat for benami assets
At a time when RJD chief Lalu Prasad has been convicted in another fodder scam case, the income tax department has prepared a detailed dossier against his heir apparent and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, along with two of Lalu’s daughters, in a Benami Transactions (prohibition) Act case for a property worth Rs 40 crore acquired using ‘unaccounted money’ in New Friends Colony, Delhi.
The I-T department has already attached the property and is waiting for confirmation from the adjudicating authority before confiscating it and launching a prosecution in the court. If convicted in the Benami Act, an accused can get jail term for up to seven years and can be liable to a fine which is 25% of the “fair market value” of the property. A convicted politician is also debarred from contesting elections for six years, in addition to the prison term he or she serves. The property in question worth Rs 40 crore was purchased in 2007, when Lalu Prasad was still the railway minister in the UPA government, in the name of AB Exports.
The directors of the shell company, as claimed by I-T, transferred all the rights and shareholding of the company to Tejashwi Yadav in 2010-11, soon after Lalu demitted office, for a mere consideration of Rs 4 lakh. In its dossier, income tax officials have compiled witness statements after interrogating half-a-dozen accused. These recorded statements will be produced in the court as evidence where the accused have stated that the beneficial owners of the said property were Lalu’s three children.
“The statements of these persons are clear evidence that they were working as intermediaries to convert unaccounted cash into white capital in the guise of unsecured loans,” a senior I-T official associated with the probe said. The accused had deposited Rs 5 crore ‘unaccounted money’ in AB Exports Pvt Ltd which had no other business transactions, either before the purchase of the property or after. Though the market value of the property was higher, the book value was only Rs 5 crore.
Along with Tejashwi Yadav, Lalu’s daughters Chanda and Ragini are the other directors in the company that now owns the property—98% of the shareholding of AB Exports is with Tejashwi and the remaining 2% is with Chanda. “AB Exports is not engaged in any kind of business activity which is evident from the balance sheet and profit and loss account of the company since its inception as filed by the company with the ministry of corporate affairs.