I-T dept says Sonu Sood involved in 20 crore tax evasion; FCRA violation

The department conducted a search and seizure operation at various premises of Sood in Mumbai as well as a Lucknow-based group real estate group.
The I-T searches were in connection with an alleged tax evasion probe.
The I-T searches were in connection with an alleged tax evasion probe.
Updated on Sep 18, 2021 12:36 PM IST
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By Neeraj Chauhan

After two days of raids on Bollywood actor and philanthropist Sonu Sood and premises linked to him, the Income Tax department said on Saturday that tax evasion worth 20 crore by Sood and his associates has been unearthed so far apart from Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) violations.

The department had conducted a search and seizure operation at various premises of Sood in Mumbai as well as a Lucknow-based group real estate group. Total 28 premises in Mumbai, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jaipur, Delhi and Gurugram were searched over two days.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in a statement that “during the course of search at the premises of the actor and his associates, incriminating evidence pertaining to tax evasion have been found.”

It said the modus operandi followed by Sonu Sood was to route his unaccounted income in the form of bogus unsecured loans from many fake entities.

“Investigations so far have revealed use of 20 such entries, the providers of which, on examination, have accepted on oath to have given bogus accommodation entries. They have accepted to have issued cheques in lieu of cash. There have been instances where professional receipts have been camouflaged as loans in the books of accounts for the purpose of evasion of tax. It has also been revealed that these bogus loans have been used for making investments and acquiring properties,” the CBDT said.

It added that the total amount of tax evaded unearthed so far, amounts to more than 20 crore.

Subsequently, the IT department has found foreign funds violations in actor’s Sood Charity Foundation, incorporated on July 21 last year when Covid-19 was at its peak and he was involved in a lot of relief work, particularly sending migrant workers to their homes.

The CBDT said that the foundation has collected donations worth 18.94 crore from April 1, 2021, till date, out of which it has spent around 1.9 crore towards various relief work while the balance of 17 crore has been found lying unutilized in the bank account of the foundation.

“It is seen that funds to the tune of 2.1 crore have also been raised by the charity foundation from overseas donors on a crowdfunding platform in violation of (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) FCRA regulations,” the CBDT statement added.

The I-T department had also conducted raids at various premises of the real estate firm, with whom Sood has entered into a joint venture real estate project and invested substantial funds. The raids, the CBDT statement said, have resulted in the unearthing of incriminating evidence pertaining to tax evasion and irregularities in the books of account.

It said the company is involved in bogus billing of subcontracting expenses and siphoning off of funds. Evidence of such bogus contracts worth 65 crore has been found so far apart from unaccounted cash expenses, unaccounted sale of scrap and digital data evidencing unaccounted cash transactions.

“Further, it has been unearthed that the said infrastructure group has entered into a dubious circular transaction to the tune of 175 crore with an infrastructure company based in Jaipur. Further investigations are being carried out to establish the full extent of tax evasion. Cash 1.8 crore has been seized during the search (at a company) and 11 lockers have been placed under prohibitory order,” it said.

The raids are continuing, it added.

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Monday, October 18, 2021