New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, December 9: The seizure of "unaccounted" cash after Income Tax department raids against an Odisha-based distillery group and its linked entities is expected to reach Rs 290 crore, making it the "highest-ever" black money haul by any agency in a single operation, official sources said Saturday.

The tax department has deployed about 40 large and small machines to count currency notes and brought in more department and bank staffers to finish the counting process, which began on December 6 following raids against Boudh Distillery Pvt Ltd and others, they said. Income Tax Dept Conducts Raids at Boudh Distilleries in Odisha, Jharkhand, Recovers Huge Amount of Cash.

Besides these, more vehicles have also been requisitioned by the department to transport the seized cash to government banks in the state. A premises linked to Congress' Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Dhiraj Prasad Sahu, were also covered as part of the searches, the sources said. Efforts to seek a response from the MP and an e-mail sent by PTI to the distillery group did not fructify.

IT Raids in Odisha

Tax sleuths are now recording the statements of various company officials and other persons involved, the sources said and added that the counting of cash is expected to finish by Saturday. The total seizure of unaccounted cash is expected to be about Rs 290 crore, they told PTI.

More than Rs 250 crore cash has been seized till now, and cash is continuously being deposited in government bank branches in Odisha, they said. The notes are largely of the Rs 500 denomination.

This is the highest-ever cash seizure made by an agency in the country as part of an action against a single group and its linked entities, the sources said.

They said almost Rs 230 crore cash was seized from about 8-10 almirahs kept on a premises of the company in Bolangir district, while the rest from locations in Titlagarh, Sambalpur and Ranchi, they said. The searches were launched after the taxman got "actionable intelligence" of a huge amount of "out of book" sales and cash being remitted by liquor distributors, sellers and business groups.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took note of the development and posted on X on Friday that "Countrymen should look at the pile of these notes and then listen to the honest 'speeches' of their leaders….Whatever has been looted from the public, every penny will have to be returned, this is Modi's guarantee." Income Tax Raids at Boudh Distilleries in Odisha, Jharkhand; Additional Counting Machines Sought to Count Huge Amount of Seized Currency.

The ruling BJD in Odisha in a statement welcomed the tax raids. "Jharkhand BJP leaders are saying the seized money belongs to Congress leaders. On the other hand, Congress leaders are saying it belongs to BJP leaders. Both are blaming the other. It seems like both BJP and Congress leaders had stashed their money with this businessman," it said.