Ahmedabad businessman Mahesh Shah to name ‘one big fish’
The curious case of businessman Mahesh Shah, who made a massive disclosure under IDS, continues to raise eyebrows. He was questioned for 10 hours on Sunday and given ‘police protection’
“He will name at least one big fish,” says Tehmul Sethna, the chartered accountant who helped the controversial Ahmedabad-based businessman Mahesh Shah declare an unaccounted income of ₹13,800 crore under the Income Disclosure Scheme (IDS), reported Ahmedabad Mirror.
Shah had claimed to have acted on behalf of a bunch of politicians, businessmen and senior officials. Under the IDS, the identity of the people declaring black money was to be kept confidential and 55% of the money disclosed was to be converted into white after paying a 45% penalty. But the people behind Shah seem to have had second thoughts and backtracked after the Government demonetised high value currency notes on November 8. With the window offered by the Government to exchange old notes for new, it would have been cheaper for them to launder their black money than paying penalty under the IDS.
Shah had disappeared after defaulting on the first instalment of the penalty due on November 30, before surfacing in the studio of ETV Gujarat on December 3 to make the sensational disclosure that he was ‘fronting’ for others. The Income Tax Department and the police had interrupted the programme in the studio and taken him away for questioning.
According to reports from Ahmedabad, he was questioned for 10 hours on Sunday and allowed to go home in police uniform. He has also been provided with police escort and security, with policemen in plain clothes posted at his apartment.
“[Mahesh Shah] will name at least one big fish,” says Tehmul Sethna, the chartered accountant who helped the controversial Ahmedabad-based businessman Mahesh Shah declare an unaccounted income of ₹13,800 crore under the Income Disclosure Scheme
Significantly, the Income Tax Department, which had ‘cancelled’ his Form 2 on November 28 and carried out searches in his premises on November 29 and 30, had not deemed it fit to interrogate him before he disappeared, only to resurface and make his sensational claim.
Meanwhile, a former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta told The Telegraph that Shah was close to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP National President Amit Shah. He claimed that Shah was closely involved in auctioning gifts received by Narendra Modi as chief minister of the state. While the proceeds would go to the Government’s social welfare schemes, claimed Mehta, on at least one occasion when the auction flopped, Shah bought the exhibits himself and was later reimbursed by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, of which Amit Shah is a former chairman and presently a director.
Significantly, the Income Tax Department, which had ‘cancelled’ Shah’s Form 2 on November 28 and carried out searches in his premises on November 29 and 30, had not deemed it fit to interrogate him before he disappeared, only to resurface and make his sensational claim.
BJP’s spokesman in Gujarat Bharat Pandya, however, denied the claim and said that gifts received by the then chief minister were auctioned by District Collectors and that Shah did not have any role.
Shah’s chartered accountant Tehmul Sethna is however convinced that Shah has been politically well-connected. He was a frequent flier but Sethna claims that though he often accompanied Shah to Mumbai, he had never received even a rupee from him. On the contrary, he told Ahmedabad Mirror that he himself had paid for Shah’s flights.
There is clearly much more to l’affair Mahesh Shah than meets the eyes.