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Maharashtra ex-Additional Chief Secretary’s transactions during demonetisation raises red flag

Author: Sharad Vyas
Publication: The Hindu
Date: February 16, 2019
URL:      https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-ex-additional-chief-secretarys-transactions-during-demonetisation-raises-red-flag/article26292479.ece?utm_source=email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Newsletter

Vigilance Commission report says several high value transactions were made by K.P. Bakshi, then Additional Chief Secretary of Maharashtra.

Central agencies have flagged several ‘suspicious’ high value transactions by a top bureaucrat of Maharashtra during the demonetisation drive that was announced on November 8, 2016.

The Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) in question was at the time in charge of Maharashtra’s Home Department assigned to closely coordinate with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on fake and counterfeit currency and its periodic suspicious transactions report (STR). This is when about ₹2.5 crore was transferred from his personal account, linked to his permanent account number (PAN), in three tranches. “The said unusual transactions have emerged as a pattern from the PAN belonging to Mr. K.P. Bakshi and appear highly suspicious in nature demanding immediate investigation by the State government,” reads a report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) forwarded to Maharashtra Chief D.K. Jain.

Mr. Bakshi retired on November 30, 2016, from the Home department. Post-retirement, he serves as Chairman of the State Water Resources Regulatory Authority.

According to sources in the CVC, the three transactions of ₹1.5 crore, ₹65 lakh and ₹45-50 lakh were carried out during the period between November 8, 2016 and January 31, 2017. The CVC report has pointed to a tip off from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND), a wing of the Ministry of Finance, which has been monitoring cases of money laundering, illicit financing and other economic offences post demonetisation.

The report also points to a spike in volumes in a share trading account belonging to the senior bureaucrat.

Highly placed sources in the government confirmed that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is also the Home Minister, has been appraised of the findings.

“We have also demanded to know from the Maharashtra government if the Indian Administrative Service (cadre) rules, 1954 - DoPT (Department of Personnel and Training) requiring intimation to the government within a period of one month after making such large volume transactions were followed,” said a source in the CVC, adding that non-intimation itself amounts to a case for chargesheeting.

Maharashtra Chief Secretary D.K. Jain said the government was alarmed by the report, and has asked the official for an explanation. “We have followed all due processes in the matter, which is alarming in nature owing to the large volume of cash. Once we receive an explanation, a course of action will be decided upon,” Mr. Jain told The Hindu.

Senior officials in the Income Tax and Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) confirmed they were appraised of the report, as also previous complaints of large scale out-of-turn transfers in the State Home Department between 2016 and 2017. On May 19, 2016, the ACB had arrested a Deputy Secretary in the State Home department for allegedly taking a bribe to recruit a candidate.

Bakshi responds

Mr. Bakshi told The Hindu that the sums were a loan and part transaction carried out on behalf of his son’s company on a temporary basis. “My son through his company wanted to buy some bonds and since he was not able to do it from his account, we carried out the transactions from my personal account. I have forwarded my explanation to the government as well,” he said.
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