In raids on Bharat Hotels group, taxmen find 1,000 crore foreign assets

Updated on Jan 24, 2020 06:44 PM IST

The Income Tax department has detected undisclosed foreign assets worth more than ₹1,000 crore belonging to Jyotsna Suri-led Bharat Hotels Limited that runs The LaLit hotels across the country, according to the officials familiar with the developments.

The Bharat Hotels Group is led by Jyotsna Suri.
The Bharat Hotels Group is led by Jyotsna Suri.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByNeeraj Chauhan

The Income Tax department has detected undisclosed foreign assets worth more than 1,000 crore belonging to Jyotsna Suri-led Bharat Hotels Limited that runs The LaLit hotels across the country, according to the officials familiar with the developments.

It has also found domestic tax evasion worth 35 crore by the hospitality group which may lead to consequences under the Black Money Act, 2015, as also, action under the Income-tax Act, 1961 respectively, the officials added.

The department had conducted raids on 13 premises of Bharat Hotels and that of Chairperson Suri on January 19 in Delhi-NCR.

In a statement issued on Friday, the IT Department’s spokesperson said that they have seized unaccounted assets worth 24.93 crore - which includes 71.5 lakh in cash, jewellery worth 23 crore and expensive watches worth 1.2 crore - during the raids.

The action, the spokesperson said, is in line with government’s mission against black money, particularly foreign assets.

“The Bharat Hotels group has been on IT department’s radar for having substantial undisclosed foreign assets,” the department added.

“Evidence seized during the search reveals that a large amount of black money was stashed abroad by the group, through the mechanism of Trusts, formed in early 1990s in tax havens. Such foreign holdings of the main persons have remained hidden for decades beneath complex multi layered structures, located in different countries, ensuring secrecy. Search action further revealed that one of the close relatives of the promoter family (referring to Suri) was intentionally introduced as a front to ostensibly escape the provisions of domestic tax laws,” the IT department said.

The foreign assets identified by the IT sleuths include investment in a hotel in UK, immovable properties in the UK and the UAE as well as deposits with foreign banks.

“The investigation has successfully lifted the veil, leading to detection of undisclosed foreign assets of more than 1000 crore, apart from domestic tax evasion of more than 35 crore which may, inter alia, lead to consequences under the Black Money Act, 2015, as also, action under the Income-tax Act, 1961 respectively,” the spokesperson added.

The Bharat Hotels group runs over a dozen such luxury hotels across the country and a property in London. Jyotsna Suri has been associated with the Bharat Hotels group since 1989 and took over as the Chairperson and Managing Director (CMD) in 2006, after the death of her husband and hotelier Lalit Suri. The businesswoman has also been the chairman of industry body FICCI in the past.

There was no comment from Bharat Hotels spokesperson till late evening.

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