I-T Dept raids Chandigarh pharma firm in 'benami' probe case

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New Delhi, Dec 16 (PTI) The Income Tax Department has found that a Chandigarh-based pharmaceutical company allegedly purchased a 'benami' asset after it raided its premises, the CBDT said on Wednesday.

The searches were carried out on the company and its associated firms on December 13 and 11 premises in Chandigarh, Delhi and Mumbai were covered, it said.

'Cash amounting to Rs 4.29 crore and jewellery amounting to Rs 2.21 crore have been seized so far. Three lockers have been put under restraint,' the Central Board of Direct Taxation said in a statement.

The primary allegation against the group was that the assessee company had purchased 117 acres of 'benami' land in Indore (Madhya Pradesh), in the name of a conduit company.

'During the search, ample evidence has been found and seized, which clearly establishes that the 'benami' company is a conduit of the pharmaceutical company with no real business activity.

'All the dummy directors and shareholders of the 'benami' company have admitted in their respective statements that the company was a shell company with no real business activity and the land in Indore had been bought from the funds of the listed company for the benefit of the managing director,' the statement said.

The Board, the administrative authority for the I-T Department, claimed that the company was in the process of selling off this 'benami' land and the taxman launched an active probe, following which an 'agreement to sell' the 'benami' land containing cash receipt of Rs 6 crore was found from the possession of the prospective buyers.

'The buyers have admitted in their statements that the deal was negotiated by the managing director and the agreement for the sale of the land was signed in the office of the MD.

'The buyers have also admitted that they had given unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 6 crore on various dates through an hawala operator,' it said. The hawala operator recorded his statement before the tax officials and the CBDT said the person gave 'a detailed modus operandi of cash transfer along with the exact dates and amounts of handing over of the cash by him in the office of the listed company'.

'Investigations have also proved that the managing director has claimed wrongful interest expense of Rs 2.33 crore (under Section 23 of the Income Tax Act, 1961) by showing his self-occupied property as a rented property to his sons,' it said.

Probe is being conducted to find if holding of 'benami' shares worth Rs 140 crore by the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) of the managing director and bogus purchases of substantial amounts was done, it said. PTI NES KJ KJ