The government’s nationwide drive against fake Goods and Services Tax (GST) invoices on its fifth day saw five more arrests, raising the total tally of arrested persons to 30, putting 1,282 corporate entities under scanner with 393 cases booked so far, two officials with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The government is also tightening the legal provisions to penalise such fraudsters, they said requesting anonymity. The Law Committee of the GST Council is expected to meet on November 18 to discuss this matter.
“The Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI), along with other arms of the government, has intensified its drive to check GST-related frauds,” one of the officials said.
Earlier, between November 9 and November 13, DGGI launched simultaneous crackdowns in 28 cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Ludhiana, Chennai, Kolkata, Gurugram. The latest round involved places such as Vadodara, Ahmadabad, Valsad, Silvassa, Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Siliguri, Nagpur, Meerut, Kolkata, Guwahati, Jaipur, Bengaluru and Ranchi.
A second official said one of the major cases was reported from Surat in Vadodara Zone, where a racket of 18 fictitious firms involved in availing input tax credit (ITC) fraudulently without receipt of goods was unearthed.
Another case involved a firm engaged in providing security services and toll collection services in Delhi and Gurugram. It availed ITC on the basis of fake bills without the actual receipt of goods and services, he said.
“An investigation showed that in 2018-19, there was a drastic shift in GST payment via ITC only (100%) as compared to previous year, when almost half of such payments were via cash ledger. It was found that ITC of Rs10.39 crore was availed from eight consignors, who were found non-existent at their registered premises,” he said. The party has so far voluntarily deposited GST of Rs5.07 crore through their cash ledger, he added.
The government is also tightening the procedure for new GST registrations to check frauds, the second official said. “The businesses whose owners or promoters do not have commensurate income-tax payment records will require physical and financial verification before their companies can be given GST registration,” he said.
Explaining the menace, he said fake invoices were not only issued for availing ITC fraudulently, but also used as conduit for nefarious activities leading to tax evasion, massive bank loan fraud, money laundering and hawala transactions. “These activities have been largely carried out by non-existent or fly-by-night firms; they use a network of firms to game the system to usurp ITC on commission basis,” he added.
These activities have been carried out primarily by unscrupulous elements who have exploited the ease of doing business conveniences in the existing system by getting a GST registration easily and quickly, and later taking advantage of the liberalised norm for grant of registration in GST, he said.