Govt. employees on ACB’s radar are found to have parked ill-gotten money in realty projects
Amass wealth misusing official position and invest in real estate to escape attention. All that one needs is the unflinching support of trusted aides, family members or even a close relative.
This new modus operandi adopted by tainted government employees came to the fore with Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials digging deeper into a few sensational cases of corruption recently.
There are no official records to confirm this, but it is said that some government departments ensure higher revenues to the State ex-chequer through collection of taxes.
A few months ago, ACB officials arrested a gazetted officer of one such department in Balanagar on charge of acquiring assets disproportionate to his official sources of income.
“This Sub-Registrar had an understanding with a real estate company owner or builder. Money earned by the officer in the form of ‘mamools’ every week would be collected by the builder’s agent,” an ACB officer, unwilling to be named, explained.
The week’s collection from the officer would be unofficially invested in the builder’s account.
As the next step, the officer’s father-in-law would buy a few open plots in the realtor’s project. The venture-owner would construct houses in the plots depending on the volume of transactions or cash exchanged between him and the officer.
“In reality, the officer is investing all his ill-gotten money in real estate through his father-in-law but nowhere does his name figure,” the officer says.
The same mantra was adopted by another top official in a bid “to turn all his black money white”, say the investigators.
In this particular case, the officer’s brother-in-law acted as ‘benami’. This official was, however, a little more cautious in his dealings since he had faced an ACB case earlier.
Having escaped penal action in that case using political ‘links’, he decided to invest money in real estate through his wife’s brother. Since his approval was compulsory for the real estate venture, the officer secured huge sums of money in the form of bribe and passed it on to a builder known to him.
“However, all transactions were in the name of his brother-in-law to ensure that he would never come into the picture, officially,” an investigator points out.
In both cases, the ACB authorities seized documents to confirm that the officers had parked their illegally earned money in real estate deals.
For them, the challenge ahead is to connect the corrupt officers with the deals and nail them in the court.