Under I-T lens! Even a Rs 2 lakh deposit can land you in trouble

Miss Alone

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Anyone who's never had more than Rs 2 lakh in his or her bank account but does so now should be worried.
Such accounts will be red-flagged and invite scrutiny by RBI+ , which may report them to the income-tax department to be investigated for possibly suspicious transactions as the government gears up for the next phase of its anti-black money campaign.
The central bank has ordered banks to provide data on such accounts as it steps up efforts to ensure that the banking system is not misused to launder black money after the demonetisation+ drive that was announced on November 8, said people familiar with the matter.
This appears to be a lowering of the threshold for inquiry — banks are currently providing information to the Financial Intelligence Unit on accounts where customers have deposited Rs 2.5 lakh or more in cash. This comes as raids have uncovered bundles of currency stashed away in bank lockers or being transported across the country. Several bank employees, including one RBI official, have been suspended or sacked for unauthorised exchange of notes amid a currency shortage that has hit regular customers and hurt the economy.
The regulator has written to banks asking for details of accounts at specific branches, particularly those in tier-II and tier-III cities that have witnessed abnormal jumps in deposits.
"What RBI has now asked is far more difficult to compile. There are accounts which may see deposits and withdrawals and thus compiling those with balance of Rs 2 lakh would be time-consuming," said one of the officials.
The government fears that dormant, benami and no-frills accounts are being used to park unaccounted money. The central bank and other agencies are intensifying efforts to ensure that black money supposed to have been rendered worthless by demonetisation doesn't find its way back into the system.
Of the Rs 15.4 lakh crore of currency accounted for by the cancelled Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Rs 12.44 lakh crore or 80% has been deposited.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the notes would cease to be legal tender on November 8. They can be deposited or swapped at bank counters until December 30.
The new threshold is being seen as a further tightening of the screw, a banker said.
"The government had in the past said that immunity would be given to those depositing up to Rs 2.5 lakh. Now RBI has asked information about deposits up to Rs 2 lakh," he said. "This may send a signal that even those deposits of Rs 2 lakh will be under scrutiny."
In an earlier letter, RBI had ordered banks to undertake internal audits at branches and currency chests where they spot unusual patterns in cash movement, a move that bankers said was aimed at preventing illegal note swaps.
In recent weeks, there has been a surge in money flowing into nofrills Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana accounts that were opened as part of the government's financial inclusion drive.

Close to Rs 27,000 crore was deposited in Jan Dhan accounts within two weeks of demonetisation as against Rs 45,000 crore mobilised in two years prior to the scrapping of high-value notes.
That's led to concerns that unaccounted money may be channelled through this route.

Newspaper advertisements issued by the income-tax department on Friday exhorted people not to "put other's money in your bank accounts". Earlier this week, an RBI official was suspended for allegedly seeking to exchange notes illegally.
Last week, Axis Bank suspended 24 officials after the I-T department raided the bank's Chandni Chowk branch in Delhi that had opened 44 fake accounts holding Rs 100 crore. On Thursday, Axis Bank uncovered 20 fake accounts at its Noida branch holding Rs 60 crore.
About 27 state-run bank executives have either been suspended or transferred for unauthorised transactions. Early December, HDFC Bank sacked four employees in Chandigarh for the unauthorised exchange of notes.