September 26, 2018

Post big note ban, taxmen issue 87 notices, attach 42 assets worth crores

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Image used for representational purpose only

NEW DELHI: Initiating stringent action against black money holders post the big note ban, the Income Tax department on Monday said it has issued 87 notices and attached bank deposits worth crores in 42 cases nationwide under the newly implemented Benami Transactions Act which attracts a heavy penalty and rigorous imprisonment of a maximum seven years.

Post the demonetisation order of the government on November 8 last year, the department had carried out public advertisements and had warned people against depositing their unaccounted old currency in someone else’s bank account saying such an act would attract criminal charges under the Benami Property Transactions Act,1988, applicable on both movable and immovable property, that has been enforced from November 1, 2016.
“After in-depth investigations, the I-T department has issued 87 notices under section 24 of the said Act (notice and attachment of property involved in benami transaction). A total of 42 properties, largely money worth crores in bank accounts and an immovable property, of benamidars have been attached,” officials said citing an analysis report.
The I-T department is the nodal department to enforce the said Act in the country.
They said the taxman has issued numerous summons under the Benami Transactions Act and is in the process of issuing more.

The decision, they said, to slap the stringent provisions of the Benami Transactions Act was taken after analysing serious cases where the illegalities were blatant and suspect cash was deposited in either benami accounts or Jan Dhan or dormant accounts.
The taxman had initiated a nationwide operation to identify suspect bank accounts where huge cash deposits have been made post November 8 when the government demonetised the `500 and `1,000 notes.
Officials said the Act empowers the taxman to confiscate and prosecute both the depositor and the person whose illegal money he or she has “adjusted” in their account.
“Such an arrangement where a person deposits old currency of `500 and `1,000 in the bank account of another person with an understanding that the account holder shall return his money in new currency, the transaction shall be regarded as benami transaction under the said Act.

Trump's new executive order to clamp down on H1B visas

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U.S. President Donald Trump | REUTERS

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is expected to sign a new executive order aimed at strangulating work-visa programmes, including the H1B and L1 visas used by Indian IT professionals, as part of a larger immigration reform effort, a top White House official has said.

The executive order drafted by the Trump Administration not only strangulates H-1B and L1 visas, but also increases inspector raj and ends employment authorisation cards to spouses on such work visas, which was recently introduced by the previous Obama Administration.

The draft of the order was leaked and published by some news websites yesterday.

“I think with respect to H1Bs and other visa is part of a larger immigration reform effort that the President will continue to talk about through executive order and through working with Congress,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily news conference.

“You’ve already seen a lot of action on immigration and I think whether it’s that or the spousal visas or other type of visas, I think there’s an overall need to look at all of these programmes. You’ll see both through executive action and through comprehensive measures a way to address immigration as a whole and the visa programme,” Spicer said.

As per the leaked draft order, Trump would reverse Obama’s extension of the duration of the optional practical training work visas, which allowed foreign students to stay in the US a bit longer after completion of their studies.

Within 90 days of the signing of the executive order, the Secretary of Homeland Security would have to review all regulations that allow foreign nationals to work in the US and determine which of those regulations violate the immigration laws or are not in the national interest of America.

It would also immediately terminate all parole policies.     

The executive order will also ask the Secretaries of Labour and Homeland Security to restore the integrity of employment-based non-immigrant worker programmes and better protect US and foreign workers affected by these programmes.

The draft order seeks the administration to “consider ways to make the process of allocating visas more efficient and ensure that beneficiaries of the programmes are the best and the brightest.”

It also proposes to establish a commission or advisory committee to analyse the nation’s current immigration policies and their impact on the American society, economy, work force, and the foreign policy and national security interest of the United States.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

Trump signed an executive order banning foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries to enter the US on Friday. 

Netanyahu denounces Iran missile test ahead of Trump meeting

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Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. | AP

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran today of launching a ballistic missile in what he said constitutes a “flagrant violation” of a UN Security Council resolution.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Netanyahu said he intended to “raise the renewal of sanctions against Iran in this context and in other contexts” in his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump.

The White House said on Monday that Trump will host Netanyahu on February 15.

Israel’s archfoe Iran has carried out a number of missile tests in recent months, which the United States and European governments have said are a breach of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Western powers say the missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and therefore go against the deal, while Iran says its missile programme is “non-negotiable”.

Israel had opposed the deal between Iran and major powers, which lifted a wide range of international sanctions in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear programme.

“Iranian aggression must not go unanswered,” Netanyahu wrote on today. 

Trump says he will announce Supreme Court pick on Tuesday

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Supreme Court is seen in Washington. | AP

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said he planned to announce his nominee to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, filling a seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

“We have a big decision that I have made, a very big decision, on the US Supreme Court that is going to be announced tomorrow night from the White House at 8.00 (local time),” Trump said on Monday during a meeting with small business owners in the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

Last week, speaking in the Oval Office, Trump said he planned to announce his nominee on Thursday, Xinhua news agency.

Trump ended his Twitter post Monday with the initials “W.H.”, apparently suggesting he would be making the announcement from the White House during the prime-time evening hours.

Regarding the nominee, Trump said this was “a person who is unbelievably highly respected and I think you will be very impressed with this person”.

During the election campaign, Trump promised that all his Supreme Court nominees would be drawn from a list of 21 Christian right-approved jurists who oppose abortion and support the right to bear arms.

The top candidates on Trump’s list, according to Fox, are Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch and Pennsylvania Judge Thomas Hardiman.

The battle to fill the ninth seat on the Supreme Court started soon after the death of conservative icon Scalia on February 13, 2016.

Relationship with India will continue to be stronger: WH

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File photo | AP

WASHINGTON: America’s relationship with India will continue to grow stronger in the Trump Administration, a top White House official has said.

“They had a great conversation the other day and the relationship between the two countries will continue to grow stronger in this country,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.

He was responding to a question on a recent telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.

However, Spicer did not respond to a question on expansion of the UN Security Council seat when asked about previous president Barack Obama’s endorsement for India as a permanent member of the 15-member body.

“I’m not going to get any further with respect to seats on the Security Council,” Spicer said.

“The President’s very pleased with (the US Ambassador to UN) Ambassador (Nikki) Haley being confirmed and spending her first week up there in New York. She’s going to do a fine job representing us,” he said in response to another question. 

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