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Real Estate Lodha Group asked to pay Rs 60 crore in taxes
May, 17th 2011

Five months after Income Tax department officials seized crores in unaccounted cash from lockers of the employees of real estate giant Lodha Group, it has asked the company to pay Rs 60 crore in taxes.

In January, the I-T department had raided about 20 premises of Lodha Group in Mumbai and Hyderabad on alleged misreporting of income. The raid was based on a tip off suggesting inflated expenditure using fake receipts and cash payments from clients. The raid had covered group chairman Mangal Prabhat Lodha and his two sons who are directors of the company.

While examining the documents found at these premises, I-T officials came across details of bank lockers in the name of some of the company's employees. When these lockers, in all 26, were raided, unaccounted cash running into crores of rupees were found. In the first raid itself, the department had found unaccounted Rs 6.5 crores in an employee's Kalbadevi locker.

Additional Rs 1.5 crore were found in the offices and residential premises of the company's owners. The I-T officials had also seized over 10 note counting machines from the group's offices. IT officials said the entire exercise was undertaken by the company to evade tax. Now, the I-T department has pegged the company's annual income at Rs 200 crore and asked the Lodha Group to pay Rs 60 crore. '

SAVING' ON TAXES

During the raids, the I-T officials had also seized documents that proved the group had shown excess payments to the suppliers of building materials and contractors.

In some cases, the excess payments given to the suppliers and contractors by cheques, came back to the company in cash.

I-T officials said that it was found that the company fudged details of payments made to property brokers. In some cases, the brokers did not even exist. Officers also found that to evade tax, the group had inflated expenditures that reduced profit.

Based on these documents and the cash found in employee lockers, the I-T department revised the tax amount payable by the company. Sources in the I-T department said that the company had accepted the assessment and agreed to pay the revised tax amount. Abhisheck Lodha, managing director of the group, however, did not respond to calls and text message.

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