Tax Evasion On ₹ 700 Crore Found In Dainik Bhaskar Raids: Tax Department

Unpaid taxes on ₹ 700 crore of income over six years, violation of stock market rules, and evidence of profits being siphoned off from listed companies have been found in searches at the Dainik Bhaskar Group, the Income Tax Department said on Saturday, two days after the raids on the conglomerate with media outlets critical of the government triggered outrage.

“During the search, it was found that they have been operating several companies in the names of their employees, which have been used for booking bogus expenses and routing of funds… Several of the employees, whose names were used as shareholders and directors, have admitted that they were not aware of such companies,” the tax department said in a statement.

“Such companies have been used for multiple purposes namely booking bogus expenses and siphoning off the profits from listed companies, routing of funds so siphoned into their closely held companies to make investments, making of circular transactions etc,” it said.

“The quantum of income escapement using this modus operandi, detected so far, amounts to ₹ 700 crore spread over a period of six years. However, the quantum may be more as the group has used multiple layers and investigations are being carried out to unravel the entire money trail,” it added.

The tax department said it had also found violation of rules of the stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for listed companies. “Application of Benami Transaction Prohibition Act will also be examined,” it said.

A total of 26 lockers have been found at the homes of the promoters and key employees of the group, which are being operated, the tax department said.

“Cyclical trading and transfer of funds among group companies engaged in unrelated businesses to the tune of ₹ 2,200 crore has been found. The enquiries have confirmed that these have been fictitious transactions without any actual movement or delivery of goods. The tax effect and violation of other laws is being examined,” it said.

“The listed media company does barter deals for advertisement revenues, whereby immovable properties are received in lieu of actual payments. Evidences have been found indicating cash receipts in respect of subsequent sale of such properties. This is under further examination,” it added. S-NDTV

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