Registration scam: Cheated luxury car owners file police complaints in Bengaluru | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: While the state government is dragging its feet on handing over investigation into the luxury car registration scam to Lokayukta/CID, skeletons continue to tumble out of the transport department‘s closet.
Several vehicle owners who have received notice from the transport department have approached the police, claiming they were cheated by middlemen/transport officials.

“We have issued notice to around 500 vehicles, including 200 high-end car owners, in Bengaluru Central RTO (HSR Layout) alone to pay up the taxes. While a majority of the vehicle owners paid cash to the middlemen, those who paid through banks are now approaching the police to register a case against the culprits. Police are independently investigating each of the complaints since there is no CID probe yet covering all RTOs,” said a senior transport department official.
He said one vehicle owner has filed a complaint with Malleswaram police against a dealer/middleman for alleged cheating. “The agent admitted to police that he committed the fraud for another 52 vehicles too. Two vehicle owners who received notices have also filed complaints with Koramangala police,” the official added.
While some high-end vehicle owners protested their innocence and claimed that they trusted transport department officials, received their ‘tax paid’ receipts and, therefore, there was no need to pay the tax again, transport department officials dismissed this. “The extent of the scam will be revealed once we conduct a third-party investigation at all RTOs across the state,” the official said.
May have to probe RTO officials: Cop
Police officials said three people have been arrested with regard to the complaints so far and confirmed that it’s a major scam. Investigating officers from Malleswaram police said that they have arrested car dealer Ajay and former RTO staffer Ravishankar. A senior police official said it’s a big scam and they are yet to reach the core of the racket.
“We suspect the hands of a few RTO officials. Also, it is not something happening for the first time. The racket is an old one with established hands working behind it. We are in the process of collecting documents from RTO and transport department to continue our investigation,” he said, adding: “The scam came to light when a car owner found that his car dealer had cheated him without paying the lifetime tax for the vehicle. What we are suspecting is that miscreants all these years had succeeded in Tampering the vehicle records with the transport department.”
After Malleswaram police completed questioning Ajay and Ravishankar, the two were handed over to judicial custody at Central Prison. Koramangala police have picked up Ravishankar for questioning. Police said another broker, Thimmaiah, has been arrested on the basis of Ravishankar’s statement.
“Based on Ravishankar’s statement, we will decide on the future course of action. We may have to interrogate a couple of RTO officials soon,” a senior police officer said.
In Bengaluru Central RTO (HSR Layout), transport officials checked records of 7,387 high-end vehicles registered between April 1, 2015 and November 30, 2021 and found evasion in 500 cases. The scam involves not paying road tax, issuing fake challans or undervaluing the vehicle with official connivance.
In March, transport minister B Sriramulu told in the assembly a CID probe would be initiated into the scam but nothing has happened so far. While Bengaluru alone has over 1 crore vehicles, the transport department has no record of luxury vehicles. Some officials reportedly colluded with car dealers and generated fake challans using loopholes in Vahan-3 portal.
Middlemen, who collude with transport department officials and dealers, assure prospective luxury vehicle owners that they can pay a sum lower than the ‘official tax’. While there is a transport department circular stating that all transactions above Rs 3,000 should be through DD/online, many of these luxury car owners pay the entire tax amount through ‘cash’ to these middlemen/transport staff, who reportedly pocketed the money without depositing it into the department’s accounts.

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