Investigative web portal Cobrapost.com claimed on Thursday that it had exposed how real estate companies across the country offer to launder unaccounted money.
At a meeting with journalists at the city’s Press Club, a short distance away from Parliament House, Aniruddha Bahal, chief of the portal, unveiled an abridged documentary titled Operation Black Ninja.
In the abridged version screened for journalists, executives of about 35 realty companies, one after another, offered to take between 10 per cent and 90 per cent of the unit price of properties in cash or “B component” or simply “Black”.
Among the 35 names, one was a listed company and another had approval from the market regulator to list. The portal’s reporter took an alias of Mohmmad Hizbullah and pretended to be working for a fictitious South Indian politician. In footage shot over 18 months, he offered to buy dozens of flats from various builders, often gaining interviews with the chief executive officers (CEOs) or promoters of the firms.
“Promising to do bulk property transactions ranging from 10 per cent to 90 per cent in black money are two real estate company CMDs (chairman and managing directors), 10 managing directors, 15 directors and executive directors, three CEOs and COOs, a president and a vice-president, two assistant VPs, four heads of marketing and sales, three general managers, three assistant general managers and many other senior employees,” stated Cobrapost.
The video footage showed one employee even offering to take Rs 100 crore in black money and convert it to white, with help from non-banking finance companies. This is a clear violation of the income tax laws, Foreign Exchange Management Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act and others.
Senior executives were shown saying that accepting payments in black was nothing new for them and that it was an accepted norm in the sector. “Some of these real estate officials are caught on camera ready to accept black money abroad via hawala. All this endorses the fact that rampant use of black money is a well-known reality of the realty sector in India,” said Bahal.
The combined turnover of these companies—spread across Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka — would run into thousands of crores.
|OPERATION BLACK NINJA’S CLAIM|