Even as the country grapples with the fleeing on Nirav Modi who is accused of swindling banks of nearly Rs 13,000 crore, more than triple that amount is lying in banks unclaimed.
A majority of corporate entities that were struck off the government’s companies roster following demonetisation have not come back to claim their bank deposits, which are to the tune of Rs 37,500 crore, an official in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs told Moneycontrol on condition of anonymity.
The development reinforces the government’s belief that most of the companies struck off the company registry were likely paper companies used for activities such as money laundering.
Under Section 248 of the Companies Act, about 2.97 lakh were deregistered by the government in a drive to weed out defunct companies on various grounds of compliance. The MCA asked companies to comply with norms in order for their status to be restored to active – and said until such time, they would not be able to access their deposits.
Only 60,000 companies came forward wanting to be reinstated, the ministry official told Moneycontrol.
“The other companies didn’t come forward in the fear that they would not be able to justify how they own the assets,” another official said.
The MCA had also sought a report from around 56 banks on details of transactions of the 2.37 lakh companies. The source in the ministry said banks, especially private sector ones, were initially reluctant to provide information. “Only after the banking secretary met the banks did we get information as per our expectation.”
The Prime Minister’s Office is expecting to unearth illegal deposits worth Rs 3 lakh crore and has directed the Income-Tax department and MCA to work together to ascertain such deposits. The PMO has also shared details of listed companies with income tax department and the Securities and Exchanges Board of India for investigation.
Further, the MCA is planning to release one more list of shell companies in coming days.
The Income tax department is planning to take action under the black money law against companies who have failed to come up and claim the bank deposits.