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Raids on Lalit hotels group, promoter led to Rs 1,000-cr black foreign assets: CBDT

"The investigation has successfully lifted the veil, leading to detection of undisclosed foreign assets of more than Rs 1,000 crore, apart from domestic tax evasion of more than Rs 35 crore which may lead to consequences under the Black Money Act, 2015, as also, action under the I-T Act respectively," the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 25, 2020, 07.54 AM IST
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I-T raids at Bharat Group, undisclosed foreign assets recovered
I-T raids at Bharat Group, undisclosed foreign assets recovered
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New Delhi: Searches conducted by the income tax department on a leading Delhi-based hospitality group have led to the detection of more than Rs 1,000 crore in undisclosed foreign assets, the Central Board of Direct Taxes said on Friday.

The CBDT didn’t name the hospitality group, but people in the know said it was Bharat Hotels. On Monday, the income tax department had carried out searches on various premises of the Jyotsna Suri-led company that runs the Lalit chain of hotels. Bharat Hotels didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comments.

Evidence seized during searches in 13 premises in Delhi-NCR revealed that a large amount of black money was stashed abroad by the group, through trusts formed in tax havens in the early 1990s, said a CBDT statement. Investigations following the searches led to the detection of the foreign assets, apart from tax evasion of over ?35 crore in India, the statement said.

‘Complex Structures’
“Foreign assets include investment in a hotel in the UK, immovable properties in the UK and UAE, and deposits with foreign banks,” the statement said, adding that further investigations were in progress. “This may lead to consequences under the Black Money Act, 2015, as also, action under the Income-tax Act, 1961, respectively,” it said. The government has taken a strong stand against black money, particularly over undisclosed foreign assets.

The agency said the foreign holdings of the main people involved were hidden for decades beneath complex multi-layered structures, located in different countries, ensuring secrecy. “Search action 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,” it said.

The searches also led to the seizure of unaccounted assets valued at Rs 24.93 crore, including Rs 71.5 lakh in cash, jewellery worth Rs 23 crore and expensive watches valued at Rs 1.2 crore, it said. Bharat Hotels runs more than a dozen hotels, palaces and resorts under the Lalit brand.

Jyotsna Suri took over as the chairperson and managing director of the company in 2006, after the death of her husband Lalit Suri.

The Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, had offered a one-time chance to those holding unaccounted assets outside India to come clean.

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