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Actor Sonu Sood, aides evaded tax worth over Rs. 20 Crore, says I-T department

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Bollywood actor Sonu Sood and his associates were involved in Rs.20 crore tax evasion and violation of foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while raising funds from abroad, the Income Tax (I-T) department said on Saturday, as raids on multiple locations linked to the actor continued for the third consecutive day.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the administrative authority of I-T department, has raided 28 premises belonging to Sood, his foundation , associates and a Lucknow, Delhi, Kanpur, Jaipur and Gurugram, during which they allegedly found incriminating evidence pertaining to tax evasion. The agency has claimed that Sood routed his “unaccounted income in the form of bogus unsecured loans from many bogus entities”.

“Investigations so far have revealed use of 20 such entries, the providers of which, on examination, have accepted on oath to have given bogus accommodation entries. They have accepted to have issued cheese in lieu of case. There have been instances where professional receipts have been camouflaged as loans in the books of accounts for the purpose of evasion of tax. It has also been revealed that these bogus loans have been used for making investment and acquiring properties,” the CBDT said in a statement, adding that total tax evasion amounts to more than Rs20 crore, so far.

Subsequently, the I-T department also alleged violation of the FCRA by the Sood Charity Foundation, a non-profit charity organization established during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak last year.

The actor shot to national prominence after he arranged free transport through rail, air and road for numberous migrant workers to reach their home states during the nationwide lockdown clamped last year to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is seen that funds to the tune of Rs20 Crore have also been raised by the charity foundation from overseas donors on a crowdfunding platform in violation of (Foreign Contribution Regulation act) FCRA regulations, ” the CBDT statement said.

The I-T department had also conducted raids on various premises of a real estate firm, with whom Sood recently entered into a joint venture and “invested substantial funds”,. The raids, the statement added, have unearthed “incriminating” evidence pertaining to tax evasion and irregularities in the account books.

“The search has revealed that the said group is involved in bogus billing of sub-contracting expenses and siphoning off of funds. Evidence of such bogus contracts found so far is to the tune of over Rs65 crore,” it said.

“Further, it has been unearthed that the said infrastructure group has entered into a dubious cirular transaction to the tune of Rs175 crore with an infrastructure company based in Jaipur. Further investigations are being carried out to establish the full extent of tax evasion. Cash Rs.1.8 crore has been seized during the search (at a company) and 11 lockers have been placed under prohibitory order,”it added.

HT has reached out to Sonu Sood and his team, but did not receive any response till the time of print.