In third raid on Delhi lawyer, Rs 13.5 crore seized


NEW DELHI: A little known lawyer whom many could not recognise by name in the Supreme Court or the Delhi high court where he claimed to have a “thriving practice” was caught by I-T authorities a third time with a hoard of unaccounted cash, stashed in bundles of banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as well as in wads of Rs 2,000, totalling at least Rs 13.48 crore.

A joint team of the I-T department and Delhi police’s crime branch found cabinets and secret chests at Rohit Tandon’s office in the upscale GK-1 area filled with notes on Sunday. Several cartons containing cashwere also found. The police said Tandon had gone underground. Search is on for him.

Delhi Police had kept Tandon under surveillance for at least two months, ever since the I-T department made a stunning haul of Rs 125 crore in its first raid on the lawyer on October 7. Sunday’s raid was the third on him, the second being two weeks ago and yielding Rs 19 crore in unaccounted income.

The involvement of police in what would have normally been treated as a tax matter is part of a new trend where the I-T department has brought in the CBI and the ED to crack cases which, while being essentially about tax evasion, seems to also involve criminality.

I-T officials are flummoxed at how Tandon managed to collect Rs 2.61crore in newly minted Rs 2,000 notes. Complicity of bank officials has not been ruled out and some top bank functionaries may be arrested red Rs 125 crore before the I-T department, is hoarding a pile of cash illegally and indulging in transactions with old and new currency notes.” The first raid came within aweek of the Income Disclosure Scheme coming to an end. The IDS was an opportunity for people to declare their black money by September 30. At the time, the I-T department had claimed that it had come across documents suggesting money laundering. Tandon had, however, refused to respond to queries sent by TOI. After the first two searches, Tandon had declared Rs 144 crore in unaccounted income. With Sunday’s seizure, the total unaccounted income recovered from the lawyer has touched Rs 157 crore. Tandon had become a talking point when TOI, in its edition on October 20, reported his disclosure of Rs 125 crore in unaccounted income a few days after the raid on his premises. The raids was part of a coordinated attack on ‘fixers’ and middlemen ruling ‘Delhi circles’.

He was on the department’s radar for some time, particularly after he had purchased a property in Delhi’s tony Jor Bagh for a consideration believed to be more than Rs 100 crore.
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Tandon’s connections and his financial transactions were still being trailed when I-T officials made another search of his bank lockers and discovered new accounts. The second search led to seizure of Rs 19 crore from banks. The third I-T raids and police searches began on Saturday night and continued through Sunday.