Income Tax searches were conducted in the office and residential premises of city-based property dealer Mahesh Shah, who disclosed a whopping Rs 13,860 crore of unaccounted income under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS). The I-T sleuths also swooped down on premises of his Chartered Accountant firm Appaji Amin. Though, the I-T Department is tight-lipped about the searches, Shah’s CA Tehmul Sethna, who is a partner in Apaji Amin & Co, informed the media about the searches carried out various places, including on the premises of those connected with his client (Mahesh Shah’s friends).
Department officials could not be contacted even after several attempts. The search operations were conducted on 29, 30 November and 1 December, Sethna told media persons here on Friday. According to him, Shah is untraceable after these searches.
In his statement to media, Sethna claimed Shah made a disclosure of Rs 13,860 crore of cash under the IDS scheme. The IDS scheme was closed on September 30.
“Shah was in my touch since 2013 and took our advice on several occasions in the past. He was not my regular client. He was mainly into land dealings. When IDS scheme was declared, I advised him to make the disclosure for peace of mind, as he is almost 67-year-old and is not keeping well due to some heart related ailments,” said Sethna.
“After taking guidance from senior I-T officials, he made a disclosure of Rs 13,860 crore cash under the IDS scheme. He was supposed to pay Rs 1560 crore, which is 25 per cent of 45 per cent tax on the disclosed amount, as the first instalment. Though November 30 was the last date, he failed to deposit the instalment with I-T department,” said Sethna.
According to Sethna, there is possibility that Shah never had such a huge amount with him when he made the declaration.
“When I-T department conducted an enquiry, they started doubting Shah’s capacity to pay the instalment by the due date. Thus by 28 November, I-T department cancelled his IDS Form-2 and initiated search operations the next day. I gave my full co-operation to them and showed all the papers related to Shah, who is untraceable after the searches,” he said.
“Though I knew that Shah’s financial condition was not sound, I did not doubt anything because he himself claimed to have such huge money which he wanted to declare under IDS. Ultimately, client has to show money, otherwise, I-T department will step in. I now believe that Shah’s disclosure was suspicious,” Sethna said.
When asked if Shah “possessed black money of several politicians and bureaucrats”, Sethna declined to comment on the authenticity of such reports.
In his statement to media, Sethna stated the I-T sleuths found only Rs 29,000 and some papers from Shah’s office during the search.