At least 26 chartered accountants have come under the scanner of the ICAI for allegedly helping shell companies, a senior official said. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) is the regulator for accountancy professionals and can initiate disciplinary action against erring members.

“The role of (around) 26 chartered accountants with respect to their alleged links with shell companies are being looked into by the institute,” ICAI President Nilesh Shivji Vikamsey told PTI. As the government continues its clamp down on shell companies in efforts to deal with the black money menace, many entities have come under the lens of various agencies, including the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).

Vikamsey said reference about the 26 chartered accountants came from the SFIO and details about them are being collected.

The ICAI can initiate stringent disciplinary proceedings against members violating norms. The measures can include suspension and even cancelling their registrations. Shell companies are dubious entities that are generally used for laundering illegal funds.

However, the term ‘shell company’ is not defined under the companies law. At ICAI’s foundation day function on July 1, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought to send out a strong message against chartered accountants trying to help entities in black money dealings.

Till July 12, the corporate affairs ministry has deregistered more than 1.62 lakh companies that have not been carrying out business activities for long. “The Registrars of Companies (RoCs) have removed 1,62,618 companies from the register of companies as on July 12, 2017 after following the due process under Section 248 of the Companies Act, 2013,” Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha on July 21.

Section 248 provides powers to the RoC to remove the name of a company from the register on various grounds, including that the entity was not carrying out any business for two preceding financial years. Out of the 1,62,618 companies that have been struck-off the register, the registration of 33,000 were cancelled by RoC Mumbai.