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Over Rs 2,150 crore tax evasion detected by Finance Ministry
August, 12th 2013

Stepped up efforts by Finance Ministry to check revenue leakage have resulted in a detection of evasion of over Rs 2,158 crore in direct and indirect taxes in the last quarter of 2012-13.

The detection came through a unique initiative of online monitoring system of suspicious transactions, named 'Virtual Office', which was set up by the ministry earlier this year for real-time coordination among revenue intelligence agencies and dissemination of various inputs pertaining to movement of illegal funds.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has detected unaccounted income and assets of Rs 1,408 crore using this platform.

The Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) and Directorate General of Revenue Intelligence (DGRI)--two leading agencies under the Central Board of Excise and Custom (CBEC)--have together detected indirect tax evasion of at least Rs 750 crore, according to an official document.

These agencies, which are part of the Virtual Office programme, detected the evasion after following up the leads in form of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) passed on to them by Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)--an agency tasked with analysing and disseminating information relating to dubious financial exchanges.

Both DGCEI and DGRI have also effected a recovery of Rs 46.71 crore, on the basis of the STRs generated by the FIU, through Virtual Office. The CBDT has seized assets worth Rs 21 crore, the document said.

An STR is a transaction of Rs 10 lakh and above believed to be proceeds of crimes including drug trafficking and black money.

The Virtual Office was set up in January to monitor the feedback on the STRs disseminated by FIU-Ind, which is also providing administrative support to it.

Over 32,000 STRs were sent to CBDT, 1,443 to DGCEI and 904 to DGRI and feedbacks on these were discussed during a meeting chaired by Finance Minister P Chidambaram on April 5.

The Virtual Office has a representative each from CBDT, DGRI, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB), DGCEI and FIU.

It enables a member agency to generate a profile of an evader or defaulter and trace his various activities. The exchange of information related to any STR, income and service tax evasion, and excise duty among others would become faster, a Finance Ministry official said.

The Ministry has been strongly advocating the government's zero tolerance policy against tax evaders and cautioned customs, central excise and service tax defaulters of stringent action for any default.

It is pertinent to mention that the Ministry is implementing first-of-its-kind amnesty scheme for service tax defaulters.

Under the 'Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme', a defaulter may declare his due tax liabilities, including the cess charges, for a period between October 1, 2007 and December 31, 2012 and pay it to the government after making a truthful declaration and can avoid penalty, interest or any other penal proceedings.

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