The income tax department’s raids on filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, actor Taapsee Pannu and two talent management companies in Mumbai are still underway in connection with Phantom Films tax evasion probe, the Union ministry of finance said in a statement on Thursday. The I-T department found income discrepancies worth ₹650 crore during the raid.
Searches that began on Wednesday are still on at 28 premises at the residences and offices Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Hyderabad linked to the now-dissolved production house Phantom Films.
Here are the key developments:
- The I-T department has found “huge” suppression of income by the production house, which was closed down in 2018. The company officials have not been able to explain the discrepancy of around Rs. 300 crore, according to the statement.
- Evidence related to manipulation and under-valuation of share transactions among film directors and shareholders, having tax implication of about Rs. 350 crore was also found and the matter is being probed further. “The group is mainly engaged in the business of production of motion pictures, web series, acting, direction and talent management of celebrities and other artists,” the finance ministry said.
- Evidence of cash receipts by Taapsee Pannu amounting to ₹5 crore has been recovered.
- Apart from this, non-genuine expenditure to related concerns by the leading producers/director having tax implication of about ₹20 crore has been detected. Similar findings have been made in the case of the leading actress also, according to the finance ministry’s statement.
- At the office premises of the two talent management companies, huge amounts of digital data has been seized in the form of emails, WhatsApp chats, hard disk etc which are under investigation, the ministry has claimed. During the search, seven bank lockers were also found and placed under restraint.
- The federal agency began the search on Wednesday morning at the properties linked to Kashyap, Pannu and Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhashish in connection with the tax evasion probe against Phantom films.
- The production house was founded in 2011 by Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, producer Madhu Mantena, and Vikas Bahl. In March 2015, Reliance Entertainment procured a 50% stake in the firm. The firm, however, was dissolved in 2018.
- After Kashyap, Bahl and Motwane officially exited Phantom Films, their partner Mantena bought their shares in the production company earlier this year, according to reports. Phantom Films is now a joint venture between Mantena’s new firm Mad Man Ventures and Reliance Entertainment, both parties holding 50% stake.
- While opposition leaders including Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have slammed the raids, Union minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday denied any link between the raids and the Bollywood celebs’ views against the government. “Probe agencies undertake investigations based on credible information and the matter later goes to courts as well,” he said.
- Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik has alleged that the raids were an attempt to suppress the voice of those who speak against the Centre. “Central agencies like ED, CBI, and Income Tax are being used to target those who take an anti-government stand and speak against the policies of the regime,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “Both (Kashyap and Pannu) were raising their voices against the Modi government,” he added.
Source: Hindustan Times