The income tax department on Tuesday said it had unearthed undisclosed income of Rs 2,300 crore from self-styled godman Asaram’s charitable trusts, and recommend that any tax breaks given to them be ceased, The Indian Express reported. According to officials who spoke to the English daily, the department had found the irregularities during the ongoing probe into Asaram and his followers' assets.
They also claimed to have found ‘benami’ transactions in a variety of sectors, including fixed deposits, mutual funds, real estate and Kisan Vikas Patras. Many of these run into several crores, officials said. The department has also found that Asaram and his followers have for decades given out cash loans to people and businesses at low interest rates, a possible way of hiding donations.
However, a spokesperson for Sant Shri Asaramji Ashram called the details of the investigation a conspiracy and an “attack on the Hindu dharma”.
Asaram and his followers have set up more than 400 ashrams all over the country, all of which have been given tax concessions. The I-T department has been raiding several of these properties, and has reportedly recovered thousands of pages of documents and hundreds of GBs of data on their financial dealings. Asaram, however, has refused to record a statement in the alleged tax evasion case.