Tax officials raid Axis Bank’s Noida branch, freeze 20 accounts

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Noida, Dec 15 (IANS) Income Tax officials on Thursday raided an Axis Bank branch here and froze 20 suspect accounts with deposits totalling around Rs 60 crore, police said.

A police officer said the suspect accounts at the Axis Bank branch in Sector 51 in Noida were opened in the name of several fake companies and a few low income individuals.

“Income Tax officials found that directors/owners of these fake/shell companies are daily labourers,” a police officer said.

The officer said these accounts came to the I-T Department’s notice when a Noida jeweller sold gold worth Rs 600 crore after the November 8 demonetisation and deposited the money at the Noida bank branch.

“Most of the money reached the jeweller through RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement system),” the official said.

A large number of account holders gathered outside the bank since they were not allowed inside during the daylong raid that began at around 10 a.m. Police was deployed outside the bank branch.

Tax officials seized several documents from the branch for scrutiny, the police officer said.

Meanwhile, Axis Bank said in a statement that it had started rigorous compliance procedures and applied all its analytic capability to identify accounts with suspicious activity since the November 8 demonetisation.

“… investigative agencies have identified some potentially suspect accounts, for which the bank has already filed STRs (Suspicious Transaction Reports) in the past with FIU-IND (Financial Intelligence Units-India).

“This apart, the bank has also pro-actively filed additional STRs with FIU in this period. We understand that the visit by the investigative agencies to our branches has been pursuant to the CTRs (Current Transaction Reports) and STRs filed by the bank under the extant KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) norms as applicable to the bank,” the statement said.

The statement said that Axis Bank had taken the “unprecedented step of temporarily suspending some of these accounts”.

“… Axis Bank stays committed to the success of the government’s demonetisation initiative and facilitating transition towards a digital economy. It is committed to maintaining the strongest operational controls and has no tolerance for undesirable behaviours that circumvent the laid out processes,” it said.

On December 9, tax officials seized over Rs 100 crore from 44 suspect accounts from an Axis Bank branch in the Chandni Chowk area in Delhi.

–IANS

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