The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Saturday said that actor Sonu Sood and his associates had evaded tax worth over Rs 20 crore, ANI reported.
“During the course of search at the premises of the actor and his associates, incriminating evidence pertaining to tax evasion found,” the board said. “The main modus operandi followed by the actor had been to route his unaccounted income in form of bogus unsecured loans from many bogus entities.”
Since Wednesday, the Income Tax Department has raided 28 premises related to the actor and his associates in Mumbai, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jaipur, Delhi and Gurugram. It had said that a deal between Sood’s company and a Lucknow-based real estate firm was under the scanner.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Saturday said it has found instances where professional receipts were “camouflaged as loans” for the purpose of evasion of tax, NDTV reported.
“It has also been revealed that these bogus loans have been used for making investments and acquiring properties,” the board said.
The evidence of bogus contracts amounted to Rs 65 crore, according to PTI.
The CBDT, which functions under the Income Tax Department, also said that Sood’s Charity Foundation had spent only Rs 1.90 crore from the donations worth Rs 18.94 crore amassed between April and September this year, Financial Express reported.
“It is seen that funds to the tune of Rs 2.1 crore have also been raised by the Charity Foundation from overseas donors on a crowdfunding platform in violation of FCRA [Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act] regulations,” claimed the department.
Cash worth Rs 1.8 crore was seized during the searches and 11 lockers belonging to the actor were placed under prohibitory order.
The Income Tax Department places such an order on bank accounts that contain completely or partially undisclosed income.
Opposition leaders had criticised the tax raids on the premises of the actor, who had won praise for his charity work during the coronavirus crisis.
The actor had organised special flights and buses for migrants stranded in cities due to the countrywide coronavirus-induced lockdown in April-May last year. Sood had also arranged oxygen for Covid-19 patients during the devastating second wave of the pandemic in April and May this year.
Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had in August made Sood the brand ambassador of his government’s mentorship programme for school students, said the prayers of lakhs of families were with the actor.
The Shiv Sena on Friday in its mouthpiece, Saamana, said that the income tax raids on Sood’s premises showed the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled central government’s narrow-mindedness.
The editorial said the BJP had earlier praised the actor’s humanitarian work during the Covid-19 crisis. But it claimed that as soon as the Delhi and Punjab governments collaborated with the actor, Sood became a tax evader.