Income-Tax searches detect undisclosed foreign assets worth ₹1,000 crore

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2020

I-T Dept does not disclose names, but well-known hotel chain is allegedly in the dock

The Income-Tax Department on Friday said it has detected foreign assets of over ₹1,000 crore allegedly belonging to a leading hotel brand. It has also discovered unaccounted domestic assets worth ₹25 crore.

The Department did not disclose the name, but said the group is a leading member of the hospitality industry, running a hotel abroad and a chain of luxury hotels nationwide under a prominent brand name.

The buzz is that it is the Lalit brand of hotels owned and operated by Bharat Hotel. The chain is being run by Jyotsna Suri, a leading industrialist and wife of late hotelier Lalit Suri.

“The Income Tax Department conducted searches on January 19, 2020, on a group which has been on their radar for having substantial undisclosed foreign assets,” read an I-T Department statement, adding that the operation covered 13 premises in the NCR.

Evidence seized during the search revealed 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.

Such foreign holdings of the main persons have remained hidden for decades beneath complex multi layered structures, located in different countries, ensuring secrecy. The search 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 statement said.

Tax evasion

The probe has lifted the veil, leading to the detection of undisclosed foreign assets of more than ₹1,000 crore, apart from domestic tax evasion of more than ₹35 crore, which may lead to consequences under the Black Money Act, 2015, and the Income-tax Act, 1961, respectively, it added.

The foreign assets include investment in a hotel in the UK, immovable properties in the UK and the UAE and deposits with foreign banks. Further investigations are in progress, the Department said.

The search operation has so far resulted in seizure of unaccounted assets valued at ₹24.93 crore (cash of ₹71.5 lakh, jewellery worth ₹23 crore and expensive watches valued at ₹1.2 crore).

Published on January 24, 2020

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