I-T Dept conducts searches on premises of Haryana-based group

The Income Tax Department has carried out searches on a group engaged in the business of real estate, housing, hospitality and retail liquor trade in Haryana, an official statement said on Thursday.

The search operation on Wednesday was carried out at 12 different premises located in Samalkha, Gurugram, Rohtak and Panchkula and followed non-compliance to faceless assessment scrutiny notices selected and issued through a computerised system.

Notices under the Faceless Assessment Scheme sent to certain assessees were consistently not complied with even though received by them, the Income Tax Department said in a statement.

Data analytics revealed that the recipients were persons of no/low means, while subsequent internal and discreet enquiries revealed that they were the front for the group and were also the ‘benamidars’ of some of the group members, the statement said.

Further enquiries brought out that that the persons to whom the notices were issued were engaged in the liquor business run by the group but have stated on oath that they have no knowledge of the business being run in their names, it said.

“It seems that their names have been misused to avail the quota reserved for SC/ST section. Further investigation is on to establish the money trail and real ownership. Suitable action under Benami Prohibition Act will be taken in all such cases,” the statement said.

During the search, evidence has been found showing bogus booking of flats in the name of employees/relatives and unidentifiable persons, in the group’s affordable housing scheme project

It was found that the company allotted houses to the employees of the group, whose unencashed cheques had been found at the premises, but the flats had been further sold to the actual buyer at a premium of Rs 6-10 lakh each.

The premium was received in cash and not accounted for in the books, while premium in cash has been charged from the other buyers as well, in this affordable housing scheme.

Thus, there is not only misuse of the scheme but also tax evasion, estimated to be not less than Rs 36 crore, the department said.

During the search, evidence was found that the group has claimed bogus expenses on account of building material like cement, iron bar etc. of around Rs 100 crore, in previous years, leading to huge evasion of taxes. Further, it was seen that the group is also regularly claiming huge bogus business promotion expenses, in the previous years, and laundering the cash siphoned off as unaccounted investment in immovable properties.

Substantial evidence has also been found that the group has routed their unaccounted income of Rs 70 crore in the form of bogus share capital and unsecured loan, through a shell company which has been invested in the buy-out of a real estate project from a popular builder in Gurugram.

Evidence in the form of property documents and title deeds have been found regarding investment in benami properties in India as well as out of the country. The matter is being examined further, the statement said.

The group has also incurred unaccounted expenditure for personal and office purposes in cash running into crores of rupees, including expenditure for taking various approvals for projects and lavish marriage expenses.

During the search, the I-T Department said that unexplained investment in jewellery of approximate Rs 3 crore has been found. Four bank lockers of the group have also been found and put under restraint. Further investigations are in progress.