Actor Sonu Sood has evaded taxes of over ₹ 20 crore, the income tax department said in a statement today on Saturday, after searching his Mumbai home for three days.
After being praised for his philanthropical efforts during lockdown, Sonu Sood had recently announced a tie-up with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in a statement that “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.”
“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 total amount of tax evaded unearthed so far, amounts to more than ₹ 20 crore,” the tax department said.
The CBDT said that the foundation has collected donations worth ₹18.94 crore from April 1, 2021, till date, out of which it has spent around ₹1.9 crore towards various relief work while the balance of ₹17 crore has been found lying unutilised in the bank account of the foundation.
“It is seen that funds to the tune of ₹2.1 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 added.
Sources have said “a recent deal between Sonu Sood’s company and a Lucknow-based real estate firm is under the scanner”, and the survey operation began on allegations of tax evasion on this deal.
“The simultaneous search operations carried out at various premises of an infrastructure group in Lucknow in which the actor has entered into a joint venture real estate project and invested substantial funds, have resulted in unearthing of incriminating evidences pertaining to tax evasion and irregularities in the books of account,” the tax department said in the statement today.
It alleged the Lucknow group is involved in bogus billing of subcontracting expenses and diverting funds. “Evidences of such bogus contracts found so far are to the tune of over ₹ 65 crore… Further investigations are being carried out to establish the full extent of tax evasion. Cash of ₹ 1.8 crore has been seized during the course of the search,” the tax department said.
The ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the Aam Aadmi Party have questioned the timing of the searches at Sonu Sood’s home. The BJP has said there is no link between Mr Sood’s tie-up with AAP and the searches. But the raids are continuing even now.