Property dealer Mahesh Shah, who had declared a whopping Rs 13,860 crore of undisclosed wealth under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS), today appeared on a television show claiming that the money did not belong to him, only to be held by Income Tax officials for questioning.
Shah’s disclosure under the Centre’s IDS, which ended in September, accounts for over 20 per cent of the total Rs 65,000 crore declared under the scheme.
The city-based property dealer, who was missing since I-T department raided his residence earlier this week, appeared in the studios of a Gujarati television channel and said he had made the declaration under his name out of “compulsion” and to “earn commission”.
“The amount of Rs 13,860 crore that I declared under IDS was not mine, I will tell the names of those behind it before Income Tax officials,” Shah said, adding that he “made the declaration out of compulsion and to earn commission”.
UNABLE TO PAY TAX
Income Tax searches were conducted on the office and residential premises of Shah on November 29, 30 and December 1 after he failed to pay first installment of tax — Rs 1,560 crore — on the whopping declaration of Rs 13,860 crore under the IDS.
“Those whose money was disclosed under IDS backed out at the last moment, so I could not pay the first installment of tax to the Income Tax department,” he said.
“I will expose everything soon. I have committed a mistake but I will reveal everything soon,” Shah said.
No sooner did Shah appear on the channel making the dramatic claim, he was taken away for questioning by I-T sleuths from the office of the local channel for questioning in presence of Sarkhej police officials.
In reply to a question if the money belonged to any businessman or politician, Shah said it belonged to “several persons”.
He, however, refused to reveal the names, saying he would do that only in front of Income Tax officials.APPEAL FOR LENIENCY
The property dealer claimed he has not done anything wrong and appealed to the authorities for cooperation as he was ready to reveal everything.
After the raids at the office and residence of Shah, the I-T sleuths had also swooped down on premises of his chartered accountant firm.
When asked where was he from November 29, Shah said he was in Mumbai.
He was supposed to pay Rs 1,560 crore, which is 25 per cent of 45 per cent tax on the disclosed amount, as the first installment. Though November 30 was the last date, he failed to deposit the installment with I-T department.
When I-T department conducted an inquiry, they started doubting Shah’s capacity to pay the installment by the due date. Thus by November 28, I-T department cancelled his IDS Form-2 and initiated search operations the next day.