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Biggest tax offender back on radar: ED claims new evidence on Hasan Ali

Sadiq Naqvi | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:02 IST

The man

  • Hasan Ali Khan is a scrap dealer and stud farm owner based in Pune
  • He has been under investigation since 2007 for an $8 billion money laundering scam

The claims

  • Income Tax authorities claim that Hasan Ali owes the country Rs 1.65 lakh crore in taxes, the largest sum ever
  • ED claims phone records have given it new evidence against Hasan Ali

Hasan Ali Khan, the flamboyant stud farm owner from Pune, is again on the radar of the enforcement agencies. The Enforcement Directorate, which searched the properties of Ali and his associates in six cities, including that of Kashinath Tapuriah last month, claims it has fresh leads in the case.

A highly-placed source said the agency believes that the investigations in the case were 'hushed up'. It's not entirely true that bogus documents were prepared to push the $8 billion money laundering claim, but the ED has "incriminating evidence" that a substantial amount was laundered by Ali.

"I am not saying that it is $8 billion, but the amount involved is substantial," the source, a Finance Ministry official, says.

Income Tax authorities claim Pune stud farm owner Ali owes more than Rs 1.65 lakh crore in taxes

Who is Hasan Ali?

Ali, who is currently out on bail, is said to be the biggest tax offender in the history of the country. The son of an excise department official, who claims he dealt in scrap and later in horse racing, hit the headlines in 2007, when it was claimed that he stashed $8 billion in Swiss bank accounts.

Income Tax authorities claim he owes them more than Rs 1.65 lakh crore in taxes. The figure stood at Rs 70,000 crore after the initial investigations claimed to have unearthed transactions with the Switzerland-based UBS bank. It was doubled after the authorities discovered more transactions.

Also read: ED arrests Chhagan Bhujbal: first NCP bigshot to go to jail. Who's next?

However, the claims of the authorities hit a dead end after the Swiss authorities were not convinced by the veracity of the documents provided by the Indian investigators.

A Delhi-based monthly magazine had first reported in 2008 how Swiss authorities believed that the documents provided by the Indian authorities were bogus. The revelation had raised serious questions on the intentions of the government then.

The Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate, too, have so far failed to provide conclusive proof of money laundering by Ali.

In 2012, the Finance Ministry had told Parliamentary Standing Committee that it was impossible for it to recover tax arrears.

Also read: Court gives go-ahead to ED to extradite Lalit Modi on money-laundering charges

New evidence

According to the Finance Ministry source, ED is in possession of new evidence, which came to light through Ali's phone records, before the case came to the limelight way back in 2007.

"The phone records, which go back to the time before the first searches related to the case happened, have given us fresh insights," he claims.

Politicians belonging to at least two big outfits may also come under the arc of the probe.

Also read: Why are ED and CBI hunting down Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh?

After a two-year lull, the February raids on Ali and his associates came as a surprise. There was speculation as to why the agency was again targeting Ali, when it has not been able to establish any allegation in the last eight years.

The fact that the Special Investigation Team on Black Money is also looking into the case made the ED raids an even bigger mystery. Ali is the only person whose name reportedly figures exclusively in the terms of reference of the SIT.

"ED is not a foolish agency that it will flog a dead horse," the official points out.

Also read: ED to investigate Anar Patel for foreign exchange and money laundering violations

Karnal Singh, a senior IPS officer, currently the Director, Enforcement, has visited Mumbai at least twice in the last three months.

The case is being investigated by the Ballard Estate office of the ED in Mumbai. A PTI report attributed to sources claims that the agency is now reviving the case, since it wants to start the trial and bring the case to a logical conclusion.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 23 March 2016, 7:45 IST