“Tax evasion”: the IT department is looking for a media group and real estate brokers

In a major operation led by a team of 125 income tax (IT) officers, two real estate companies from the Ahmedabad-based Sambhaav Group, which is one of the major media outlets, along with two of their brokers Associated properties were raided on Wednesday for possible tax evasion, IT officials told media on Wednesday. The team of officials started the search operation at 6am in about 15-20 premises belonging to Sambhaav group and two brokers – Yogesh Pujara and Dipak Thakkar, official sources from the IT department said. Among the premises raided in Ahmedabad were the residences and offices of the owners of the Sambhaav Group, which includes the offices of Nila Infrastructures Limited and Nila Spaces Limited, two listed companies.

“They are in the real estate business. We are usually looking for money, lockers and documents. It could be anywhere. We don’t do research overnight. We carefully follow a file. We obtain information, evidence and our employees also act as decoy customers to determine the amount of ongoing cash transactions,” an official said, adding that “companies typically evade tax on transactions they perform in cash”.

According to the website, parent group Sambhaav Media Ltd runs TV channels VTV News, VTV Gujarati, Abhiyaan Magazine, Sambhav Metro, a tabloid, Top FM and Wise TV, a transit TV station based at Gujarat State Road Transport. Buses Corporation and 50 depots. Sambhaav Media Ltd, through a wholly owned subsidiary, Ved Technoserve India Pvt Ltd, has started a new foray into smart electric fence. M/s Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has awarded a pilot project for such a fence to Pathankot Air Base.

Nila Infrastructures has built 91 bus stations under the BRTS project, built houses under Mukhamantri Aawas Yojana and participated in the development of several real estate projects in Ahmedabad, Barmer, Udaipur, Bhilwara, Jodhpur, Becharaji, Modasa, Surat and Vadodara.

When asked if the IT department was targeting media companies for its research, the manager replied, “Our research was related to the real estate sector.” The IT managers were assisted by 70 police officers during the searches. Research is continuing and the amount of unaccounted transactions will probably be known within a few days. “We don’t know what role the two brokers have, but they were associated with the Group,” the official added. No member of the band could be reached for comment.

Kristan F. Talley