A day after tax sleuths launched a search for a “missing” Gujarat real estate businessman who had declared unaccounted for income of Rs 13,860 crore, he surfaced on TV and was later detained by I-T officials. Shah claimed he was just a face for money belonging to others.
Ahmedabad-based realtor Mahesh Shah, 67, maintained he did not have any black money. “Kuch Hindustanio ka paisa hai (the money belongs to some Indians),” he said on Gujarati ETV on Saturday.
Before his detention, Shah said he would contact the I-T department and give the names of those who had convinced him to declare their unaccounted income as his own. “I am going to fully cooperate with the I-T department because now I want to raise the curtain on the mystery.”
The realtor, whose business interests are mostly in Mumbai, was “missing” after he defaulted on the first tax instalment of over Rs 1,500 crore on the amount he had disclosed. He was supposed to pay the instalment by November 30 as a part of the amnesty called the income declaration scheme (IDS).
Shah said “something happened” following which he could not pay the first instalment. “The due date of the first instalment was November 30, but the I-T department was at my residence for a survey on November 28,” he said. The I-T department has cancelled his IDS claim.
Shah said he was aware the amount he had declared was huge and he knew the consequences. He claimed he was confident all the instalments would be paid. The realtor, however, said he feared for himself and his family’s security.
Taxmen and police came for him before he could act on his claims. Shah, who hit the TV screens around 6 pm, was picked up by I-T officials and Ahmedabad police, from the studio around 8pm.
“We first took him to Sarkhej police station. The I-T department is likely to take his custody for questioning,” said a police official who did not want to be named, as he is not authorised to speak to the media. The official added that a case of money laundering was likely to be filed against Shah soon.
While on TV, Shah claimed the I-T department had seized documents from his home during searches in the last couple of days.