The income tax (I-T) authorities, on Monday, conducted searches at the offices of major real estate developer Lodha Group to detect concealed income.
The investigation wing of the department searched around 20 premises belonging to the company, its owners and some others with business links to the group. Among the premises searched were the group’s head office at Mahalaxmi and the owners’ residence at Walkeshwar.
BP Gaur, director general (investigation), income tax, Mumbai, confirmed the searches on the group. However, Abhisheck Lodha, managing director of the group, denied any search operation by the I-T department.
I-T officers said around 150 officers and staff took part in the search operation that went on till late at night.
The searches were conducted after the department got information that the group was allegedly showing excess expenditure in account books to conceal actual profit and evade tax.
During searches, the I-T team sealed 14 bank lockers belonging to the owners and their family members. These would be opened in the next few days.
A senior I-T officer, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the department had information that in records, the group was showing excess payments to suppliers of building material and also to building contractors. “We found that the payments shown to the suppliers and contractors were more than what they were supposed to get,” the officer said.
I-T authorities were investigating and going through financial records to verify further information that huge payments to some suppliers and contractors were made through cheques, but the excess part of the same came back to the company in the form of cash.
The authorities also visited such suppliers and contractors suspected to have received ‘excess’ payments. Bank accounts of the group and the suppliers and contractors were being checked.
Another piece of information the department was verifying was doubtful payments to some property brokers for sale of properties. In this connection, the authorities also visited a broker. “This way the group inflated expenditure, which reduced the profits in account books which helped them pay less tax than they were supposed to,” the officer said.
The authorities would also go through last six years’ returns filed by the company and its owners to find out if there was tax evasion in earlier years too.