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Income Tax officials: Lilavati trustees got crores as kickbacks
April, 13th 2011

Lilavati Hospital trustees have received few hundred crores of rupees as kickbacks in the purchase of medicines, income-tax (I-T) officials said on Tuesday.

The officials said it would take time to calculate the exact amount received, but the department was examining the tax exemption granted to the hospital which is run by a charitable trust.

A senior I-T official said that the Bandra Reclamation-based hospital purchased medicines at discounted prices. "But the hospital paid the entire amount by cheque.

The difference in price was returned to some trustees in cash," the official said. The money has not been accounted for, the official said.

The department had searched 29 premises linked to the hospital for tax evasion on Monday.

I-T officials said they were collecting details of payments and also the vendors. "We procured a list of vendors from the laptops seized," another official said.

The officials stated that the employees said the transactions were at the instance of Chetan Mehta, a trustee. "It is early to say that this amount was taken out of the country," the officials added.

A spokesperson for the hospital trust said it was an "absolute falsehood" that Chetan Mehta got colleagues to collect kickbacks on his behalf. There is a long-standing dispute among the trustees.

Niket Mehta, managing and permanent trustee of the hospital, said, "I welcome the move of the authorities, probing certain irregularities. It's a remarkable exercise of righteousness from the I-T department.

In fact, in the past, I had raised this arbitrary and unlawful functioning of the sub-committee in various forums, including the charity commissioner, which had failed to take note of it."

Delhi resident Harsh Raghuvanshi had filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that some trustees had laundered money outside India. He said the trust received support from the state government and also got concessions in taxes and land rates, and was treated as a charitable trust, but was actually a tool for siphoning huge amounts generated from the public.

I-T officials said infighting among trustees would cause a problem while deciding on the tax liability. "We will decide on that later," an official said.

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