Punjab senior excise officials booked for GST scam

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Punjab vigilance bureau, probing a multi-crore tax evasion racket, has booked seven more persons, including a divisional excise and taxation commissioner (DETC) and four assistant excise and taxation commissioners (AETC). 

As per vigilance officials, the racket has brought to the fore the rampant corruption in the excise department as it involves a number of officers who are allegedly taking monthly bribes from businessmen and transporters for ferrying goods in and out of the state without paying the goods and services tax (GST). 

The bureau had registered an FIR in the case on 21st August after the arrest of six persons, including four excise officers.

The VB has now added seven more names to the FIR, as per the documents accessed by HT. These include BK Virdi, DETC, posted as joint director, investigation, Jalandhar; HS Bajwa, AETC, excise wing, Amritsar; Manjit Singh, AETC, mobile wing, Amirtsar; Harmeet Singh, AETC, audit, Bathinda; Harjinder Singh Sandhu, AETC, Ferozepur; Tarlok Singh posted as ETO mobile wing, Amritsar; Pushapdeep Singh, superintendent, central GST, Amritsar, and two private persons, including Kailash, a transporter from Jalandhar. 

The racket is widespread. Bureau suspect involvement of many officials. A raid at a house of an AETC in Pathankot left vigilance officials in a tizzy. The palatial house had imported wood and marble. The bungalow of AETC Bajwa had a climate-control swimming pool. An AETC from Patiala, who is under arrest has invested money in Canada.

During custodial interrogation, ETO told bureau that all ETOs used to give ₹25,000 per month to the DETC. Now, bureau have proposed to open disproportionate assets case against most accused. The names of three top officials of the taxation department have also come to the fore and process has been initiated to collect evidence.

Vigilance DSP Iqbal Singh said he was not authorised to speak, but added that many officials have been named in the scam, and they all will be quizzed after due approval from top officials. 

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