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Punj Lloyd faces Rs 61 crore service tax evasion charges
February, 26th 2014

Infrastructure and engineering major Punj Lloyd has come under the scanner of the central excise department over alleged pending Service Tax liability of Rs 61 crore.

Punj Lloyd voluntarily deposited Rs 1.06 crore on the spot through challans when excise officials visited them during an investigation in the matter. They have also submitted post-dated cheques of Rs 10 crore as part of their pending Service Tax liability, official sources said.

A Punj Lloyd spokesperson, when contacted for their reaction, said in an emailed response that "routine general investigations" were being carried out against them by the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI).

"Neither has the DGCEI issued any show cause notice to the company. Routine general investigations, as they are done for several companies, are being carried out by them and Punj Lloyd is fully cooperating and submitting the required information," the spokesperson said in a statement.

The DGCEI has not found any shortfall in the deposit of Service Tax by Punj Lloyd Limited. "We have been paying Service Tax dues since April 2013. In fact, the last payment was made in January 2014," the company said.

Acting on information that the firm was collecting Service Tax but not depositing it with the exchequer, an investigation through summons proceedings was initiated against Punj Lloyd by DGCEI, the sources said.

They claimed to have found that Punj Lloyd, engaged in business of engineering and construction, was not filing ST-3, a mandatory form for filing Service Tax returns, since April last year.

After registration of preliminary enquiry, a team of DGCEI officials visited the firm's headquarters in Gurgaon.

The officials recorded the statement of Rajesh Goel, Assistant General Manager of the company, as part of their investigation. Goel admitted to pending tax liability of the company to be around Rs 61 crore before the tax officials, the sources said.

Goel has also undertaken to deposit the balance outstanding amount of the firm's tax dues by March 31, 2014, the sources said.

Actual quantification of alleged Service Tax evasion and further investigations are in progress, they said.

Meanwhile, the DGCEI have also sought relevant information from other financial intelligence agencies on Punj Lloyd, they said.

Service Tax has been a "focus area" for the Finance Ministry to increase its revenue from indirect taxes.

The DGCEI officials are taking strict action against all evaders after a first-of-its-kind amnesty scheme for Service Tax defaulters ended in December last year.

The Voluntary Compliance Encouragement Scheme (VCES), which was implemented from May 10 last year, was announced by Finance Minister P Chidambaram to allow a Service Tax defaulter to pay dues without any penalty or late payment charges.

Under the scheme, a person was to make a declaration to the designated authority on or before December 31, 2013.

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