In a major breakthrough in the Bhavnagar fake billing scam which involved tampering with the Aadhaar data of unsuspecting people to fraudulently obtain GST registrations in their name, investigators have found that at least 25% of the estimated Rs 20,000 crore of fake billing took place in Gujarat.
Sources privy to the developments said that in Gujarat alone, fake billing of at least Rs 5,000 crore is estimated to have taken place and the amount of taxes evaded using these runs into hundreds of crores.
The scam surfaced in February during a spot verification exercise by SGST officials in Surat. “The actual quantum of fake billing is not yet clear but it is bound to increase as more beneficiaries are detected in Gujarat and other states,” a source told TOI.
Mohammad Tata, the alleged kingpin of another fake billing scam worth Rs 739 crore involving Madhav Copper Limited, has been shifted from Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar, to probe his involvement in the Aadhaar-GST fake billing scam. This adds credence to the claims of top SGST officials who say Bhavnagar was the epicentre of major bogus billing scams taking place across the state and across the country.
In the recently filed initial chargesheet by the special investigation team (SIT) investigating the scam, some 461 bogus companies havebeen detected.
Of these 236 have been probed. However, sources say the actual number of such shell companies runs into the thousands.
During raids conducted onAadhaar centres by SGST officials, it emerged that mobile numbers linked to some 2,800 Aadhaar cards had been changed.
According to sources in the investigation agencies, this is one of the biggest fake billing scams in the country, and has links to tax frauds committed across many states like Maharashtra, MP, Delhi, UP, Tamil Nadu and those in the Northeast.
“The investigators made a major breakthrough after detecting a new modus operandi: fudging Aadhaar data to obtain PAN cards and GST registrations. GST registrations obtained using fudged Aadhaar data have been found in all major states,” said a source.
“The SGST department has already alerted the departments concerned in other states to investigate these GST numbers and detect fake billing and tax evasion,” the source further added.
So far, at least 24 persons have been arrested in connection with the case.