The Income Tax Department on Friday detected undisclosed foreign assets worth over Rs. 1,000 crore ($140 million approx.) allegedly belonging to Jyotsna Suri, managing director of Bharat Hotels that owns the Lalit Hotel chain in New Delhi, and her close aid, Jayant Nanda.
According to income tax officials, Bharat Hotels has been on their radar for having substantial undisclosed foreign assets.
On Monday, officials had raided as many as 12 premises of establishments owned by Suri.
“Evidence seized during the search reveals that a large amount of black money was stashed abroad by the group, through the mechanism of Trusts, formed in early 1990s in tax havens. The assets of Jyotsna and her associates had been hidden for several years in different countries”, said a senior official.
He added that search actions had further revealed that one of the close relatives of the promoter family was intentionally introduced as a front to ostensibly escape the provisions of domestic tax laws.
“The investigation led us to detection of undisclosed foreign assets of more than $140 million (Rs. 1000 crore), apart from domestic tax evasion of more than $4.5 million (Rs. 35 crore) which may lead to consequences under the Black Money Act, 2015, as also, action under the Income-tax Act, 1961 respectively", the official said.
The Black Money Act, 2015 attracts rigorous imprisonment from three to 10 years and a discretionary fine.
Revealing the details, the official said that foreign assets include investment in a hotel in the UK, immovable properties in Britain and the UAE, as well as deposits with foreign banks.
Earlier on Friday, tax officials also revealed that a huge cache of unaccounted assets like gold ornaments worth $3 million (approx. Rs. 220 million) had been seized from the premises of Suri in New Delhi and her close aid Nanda.
The raids followed a decision by the federal Finance Ministry to give a free hand to tax authorities to mop up a huge gap in the revenue collection. The ministry also directed tax officials to address "tax scrutiny" cases, which have the potential of generating revenue by 31 January.
The Income Tax Department, during a meeting held in Mumbai earlier in January, also directed its officials to identify the top 100 cases of suspected tax evasion and initiate action against them.