Sonu Sood evaded Rs 20 crore in taxes, says I-T Dept

Sonu Sood evaded Rs 20 crore in taxes, says I-T Department

Incriminating documents have been seized during the search operations conducted by the department

Actor, model and philanthropist Sonu Sood. Credit: PTI Photo

Actor-philanthropist Sonu Sood, his entities and associates have evaded tax to the tune of Rs 20 crore, kept charity funds unutilised, engaged in bogus contracts and dubious circular transactions all totalling Rs 250 crore, according to the Income Tax department.

The federal tax collection agency is carrying out an operation at two dozen locations linked to the celebrity, who emerged as the messiah of migrant workers during the Covid-19 triggered lockdown.

Two infrastructure companies - based in Lucknow and Jaipur - have also come under the scanner of taxmen.

The IT department on Saturday issued a statement on the search and seizure operation related to Sood, however, has not named him though the press statement mentions that it is related to a “prominent actor”.

According to the initial estimates, Rs 20 crore tax evasion has been detected and “incriminating documents” were seized.

Read | Income Tax dept searches places linked to Sonu Sood for second day

A total of 28 premises spread over Mumbai, Lucknow, Kanpur, Jaipur, Delhi, and Gurgaon have been covered in the search operation, the IT department said.

“During the course of search at the premises of the actor and his associates, incriminating evidence pertaining to tax evasion have been found. The main modus operandi followed by the actor had been to route his unaccounted income in the form of bogus unsecured loans from many bogus entities,” the IT department said.

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 cheques in lieu of cash. 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 investments and acquiring properties,” the press statement said.

The  Sood Charity Foundation incorporated by the actor on 21 July, 2020 has collected donations to the tune of Rs 18.94 crore from 01.04.2021 till date, out of which it has spent around Rs. 1.9 crore towards various relief work and the balance of Rs. 17 crore has been found lying unutilised in the bank account of the foundation till date.

“It is seen that funds to the tune of Rs. 2.1 crore have also been raised by the foundation from overseas donors on a crowdfunding platform in violation of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) regulations,” the statement reads.

The simultaneous search operations carried out at various premises of an Infrastructure group in Lucknow in which Sood  has entered into a joint venture real estate project and invested substantial funds, have resulted in unearthing of incriminating evidence pertaining to tax evasion and irregularities in the books of account.

The search has revealed the group is involved in bogus billing of subcontracting expenses and siphoning off of funds.

Evidence of such bogus contracts found so far are to the tune of over Rs. 65 crore.

Evidence of unaccounted cash expenses, unaccounted sale of scrap and digital data evidencing unaccounted cash transactions has also been found.

Further, it has been unearthed that the infrastructure group/company has entered into a dubious circular transaction to the tune of Rs. 175 crore with an infrastructure company based in Jaipur. Further investigations are being carried out to establish the full extent of tax evasion.

Rs 1.8 crore in cash has been seized during the course of the search and 11 lockers have been placed under prohibitory orders.

The search operation is still continuing and further investigations are in progress.

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