Against the perception of many ‘shell’ companies operating from the North-east, only 249 among the 2.9 lakh deregistered companies whose bank accounts were frozen are from the region.
The finance ministry yesterday announced freezing of 2,09,032 accounts of suspected shell companies which were de-registered post the demonetisation drive in November last year.
The account-freezing move came as some of the companies, which have failed to submit balance sheet and annual returns, were found doing huge transactions in the bank accounts.
In the North-east, altogether 333 notices were served to the various companies: Assam – 231, Meghalaya – 36, Tripura – 19, Arunachal Pradesh – 15, Manipur – 11, Nagaland – 11 and Mizoram – 2.
Of them, 249 were de-registered followed by freezing of accounts.
“De-registration of companies is a regular exercise, but for the first time it has happened on such a mammoth scale,” said Chandan Kumar, Registrar of Companies (RC), North Eastern Region, Shillong.
The RCs are empowered to de-register any company that failed to submit statutory returns for two years.
Most of the companies deregistered in the North-east were formed after 2006, Kumar told The Meghalaya Guardian.
Explaining the term “shell company”, he said there is no such official term to brand a company, but such company is understood as exists only on paper.
“Their sole purpose of formation is to do ‘round-tripping’ of money, mostly illegal, for commission,” he added.
The RCs earlier served notices starting December last year to the companies which failed to file their “statutory returns” such as balance sheet and annual returns for the past two years.
In what can justify suspicion of the Central government that most of such companies are shell companies doing money laundering, over 90 per cent of them have failed to respond to the notices, prompting their de-registration and following freezing of accounts.
(Published in The Meghalaya Guardian on September 8, 2017)