Kolkata’s Lalbazar is home to at least 300 shell companies

Sebi ban on shell companies

At least 70 per cent people involved in opening shell companies are not even CAs but only entry operators.



LATEST NEWS   :   This article was first published on Business Standard on Feb 20, 2017. Business Standard is republishing this article in light of Sebi imposing trading restrictions on suspected shell companies


Lalbazar, one of the oldest areas of Kolkata and once the home of merchant princes of the East India Company, is now the residence to shell companies.



Still famous for colonial-era commodities such as tea and dying goods and services such as typewriters and wedding bands, the bustling area in central Kolkata is almost synonymous with the city police headquarters, housed in a red brick building at 18 Lalbazar Street.


Right across the street is the dilapidated Mercantile Buildings at 9/12. In its recent crackdown on shell companies, the income tax (I-T) department has identified this address as the home of 90 per cent — or 300 — of such entities in the country.


The building, on a corner plot, with gothic arches and still impressive façade, came up in 1918. During the construction of the iconic Howrah Bridge over the Hoogly, from 1935 to 1943, it was used as a warehouse for iron beams imported from England.


It was also a hub of the cycle trade. As a continuation, the ground floor has several wholesale shops selling cycle parts.


Now, this building is only famous for fires and I-T raids.


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