NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has frozen the bank accounts of 209,032 suspected shell companies as part of a crackdown on illegal transactions and tax evasion, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.
The latest action against shell companies - which have no active business operations or assets - comes months after authorities ordered nearly 200,000 such firms to be shut down.
Under the order, the owners and their nominated signatories will not be able to operate bank accounts until such companies are legally restored, the ministry said in a statement.
“The department of financial services has ... advised all banks that they should take immediate steps to put restrictions on bank accounts of such struck off companies,” the statement said.
Tax officials say the owners of shell companies create elaborate smokescreens, including naming personal servants and chauffeurs as board directors, to obscure the ultimate beneficiaries, conceal political investment, evade tax, commit fraud or manipulate tenders.
In his Independence Day address on Aug 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described such firms as “looters of the nation’s wealth”.
Reporting by Manoj Kumar; editing by Andrew Roche