On Saturday the Income Tax Department accused Bollywood actor Sonu Sood of financial irregularities worth over Rs 250 crore by way of unutilised charitable funds, bogus contracts and circular transactions with one of his partner companies, and diverting funds to evade taxes, officials said. ” Sonu Sood has evaded taxes of over Rs 20 crore”, the income tax department said in a statement today, after visiting his Mumbai home for three days in a row for a search. Mr Sood, 48, had recently announced a tie-up with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party government.
The disclosures came after IT sleuths’ swoop for two days on some 28 premises in Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kanpur and Gurugram in one of the biggest such investigative actions on any actor or entities linked with him. The operations continue. In a rare official statement, the Income Tax Department, without naming him, said that Sood evaded tax worth Rs 20 crore so far, besides listing other alleged wrongdoings emerging in its probe.
The tax department said Mr Sood’s non-profit also raised Rs 2.1 crore from overseas donors using a crowdfunding platform in violation of the law – Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act – that governs such transactions.
“During the course of search at the premises of the actor and his associates, incriminating evidences pertaining to tax evasion have been found. The main modus operandi followed by the actor had been to route his unaccounted income in the form of bogus unsecured loans from many bogus entities,” the tax department said in the statement.
Reactions of different political parties
Recently, Sood was in the news after his meeting with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, where he was declared brand ambassador of the AAP government’s ‘Desh ke mentors’ programme for guiding students in making career choices. During the lockdown, Sood had helped migrants reach their native places by arranging transportation and food.After the I-T department initiated its searches on Wednesday, Kejriwal came out in his support, tweeting that there are many difficulties on the path of truth, but it always wins.“With Sonu Sood ji, there are prayers of lakhs of families of India who got his support in difficult times,” he wrote.
The Shiv Sena also came out in support of Sood and linked the I-T searches with the actor’s decision to become brand ambassador for the Delhi government.An editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana said that the Bharatiya Janata Party had earlier praised the actor’s humanitarian work during the Covid-19 crisis. But the party claimed that as soon as the Delhi and Punjab governments collaborated with the actor, Sood became a tax evader.
The Saamana editorial on Friday said that Sood’s relief efforts had earned him popularity. The Shiv Sena also pointed out that BJP leaders had also attended events associated with the actor.“It was emphatically claimed that Sonu’s great humanitarian work was inspired by the BJP’s traditions,” the Shiv Sena said. “But as soon as the Delhi and Punjab government tried to join hands with him, he was declared a tax evader.”The Shiv Sena alleged that it had become a policy of the BJP-led government to deploy central agencies against those who are not associated with the party.
Sonu Sood has participated in many charitable event during lockdown
Sood has received widespread praise for his charity work during the coronavirus pandemic. He had organised special flights and buses for migrants stranded due to the countrywide lockdown in April-May last year.The actor had also arranged for oxygen for patients suffering during the second wave of the pandemic in May this year.