I-T dept raids Lalu Prasad's shell cos in Rs1,000-cr benami trail

The Income Tax Department today carried out raids at 22 locations in Delhi-NCR on companies and people associated with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in connection with benami land deals worth Rs1,000 crore.

Reports quoting I-T officials said raids were conducted at 22 locations in Delhi and NCR including the properties and office premises after Laloo Prasad's son-in-law's admission of benami deals.

Lalu Prasad, his MP-daughter Misa Bharti and his two sons, both Bihar government ministers, are accused of being involved in corrupt land deals worth over Rs1,000 crore.

Lalu Prasad's daughter is alleged to have bought land worth Rs100 crore for just Rs1 crore.

Officials said raids were carried out on the premises of some prominent businessmen and real estate agents in Delhi, Gurgaon, Rewari and some others early in the day.

Lalu Prasad, however, denied that shell companies are being used to make land deals.

"People and businessmen connected to the land deal involving Lalu Prasad and his family are being searched. There are allegations of benami deals worth about Rs1,000 crore and subsequent tax evasion," a senior official said.

A team of about 100 tax department officials and police personnel are conducting the raids, they said.

While raids are being conducted at a dozen locations, 10 other official premises are being surveyed by the I-T department, they said.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had alleged that these transactions were a case of "quid pro quo" as they date back to the period when Lalu Prasad was the railway minister, and dared Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to take action against him.

Lalu's RJD is a constituent of Bihar's ruling coalition led by Nitish Kumar. His sons Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav are ministers in the government.

Lalu's official residence was the address of the owners of the firms allegedly floated by his family members, Ravi Shankar Prasad had said.

These companies are owned by Lalu Prasad's family members for carrying out illegal land transactions and have no employees, no business activities and no turnover, he had claimed.

Several suspect land deals took place in Bihar, he said, wondering if Nitish Kumar would invoke a special law enacted by his government in which assets acquired through illicit money are confiscated in this instance.

"The politics of Lalu Prasad has become politics of loot. Land worth crores of rupees was grabbed for a pittance," he had said.

One such land deal involving Lalu Prasad and his family members is in Bijwasan in Delhi, he said.

Bihar's biggest shopping mall spread over 7.5 lakh square feet is coming up in Patna as part of such dubious transactions, he had alleged at a news conference.