The Income Tax Department said on Friday that searches in multiple premises of firms and trusts founded by religious leader Kalki Bhagwan yielded undisclosed income of over Rs 500 crore, PTI reported. The undisclosed income covers unaccounted cash receipts of about Rs 409 crore. A total of Rs 43.9 crore in cash and United States dollars worth Rs 18 crore were also seized, they added.
The I-T department found that Bhagwan’s group had been investing in tax havens, and said it was investigating “diversion of income taxable in India to offshore entities”.
As many as 40 premises connected to a conglomerate of trusts and companies founded by Bhagwan that ran “wellness courses” were searched on Wednesday. The searches covered premises in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Varadaiahpalem on the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border.
The religious leader founded entities that propounded “oneness philosophy”, offered “wellness courses” and training programmes in philosophy and spirituality at various campuses in Varadaiahpalem, Chennai and Bengaluru, the I-T department said. The courses have a foreign clientele, with the religious leader earning substantial receipts in foreign exchange.
Bhagwan and his son manage and the control the foundation set up to offer the courses. They also have interests in several sectors, including real estate, construction and sports in India and abroad.
The I-T department said that the searches were conducted following a tip-off that the group has been regularly suppressing its receipts at its various centres. Evidence of malpractice was found with employees of the group, who maintained record of cash collections.
“It is learnt that the group also earned unaccounted income in receiving cash from property sales over and above documented values,” the income tax department said in a press release. “A preliminary estimate of such unaccounted cash receipts is Rs. 409 crore from Financial Year 2014-’15 onward.”
The seizures also yielded undisclosed gold jewellery of about 88 kg valued at over Rs 26 crore, and diamonds worth Rs 5 crore. The group’s foreign clients paid offshore firms based in China, United States, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
The I-T department also found that the group had been receiving donations and then returning them in the garb of expenses for a small fee. “All these leads are being pursued and investigation is in progress,” the tax department said.
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