The Income Tax department on Thursday claimed that it had found large illegal transactions and suppression of income, worth about Rs 650 crore, by actor Taapsee Pannu and director Anurag Kashyap, The Indian Express reported. This came after the officials conducted searches at properties linked to the Bollywood personalities in Mumbai and Pune for two days.
About 168 tax officials have been searching 28 locations in the two cities in connection with the alleged tax evasion by firms connected to Kashyap, his former business partners, Pannu and two talent management firms, Kwan Entertainment and Exceed Entertainment. The IT officials had also searched the premises of production house Phantom Films, which was co-promoted by Kashyap and producers Vikas Bahl and Madhu Mantena.
Pannu and Kashyap have both been vocal against the Narendra Modi government on various matters, most recently the farmer protests against the new agricultural laws. Opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, have often suggested that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government misuses central agencies such as the Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation to target those who oppose government policies.
In a press release, Central Board of Direct Taxes spokesperson Surabhi Ahluwalia said that the agency recovered evidence of cash receipts by Pannu amounting to Rs 5 crore. The agency also claimed to have found bogus expenditure of Kashyap with tax implication of about Rs 20 crore.
“Similar findings have been made in case of the leading actress also,” Ahluwalia said of Pannu.
Income Tax officials said that Phantom Films shareholders were also suspected to be involved in the alleged tax evasion. The production house is alleged to have carried out a stake sale and not pay income tax from the money generated from the same.
“Evidence of huge suppression of income by the leading film production house compared to the actual box office collections has been unearthed,” Ahluwalia said, without naming the entities. “The company officials have not been able to explain discrepancy of around Rs 300 crore.”
Additionally, evidence related to manipulation and under-valuation of share transactions of the production house amongst the film directors and shareholders, having tax implication of about Rs 350 crore has been found and is being further investigated, the income tax official said.
During the search, seven bank lockers were found, which have been placed under restraint, according to the statement, the Hindustan Times reported. The officials added that further investigation was on, adding that raids were still being carried out on Thursday.