Land-dealer declares Rs13,860 cr under IDS 2016 and goes missing

03 December 2016

A not-so-prominent land dealer in Gujarat is reported to have declared nearly Rs14,000 crore of unaccounted wealth under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) 2016, but only to go missing thereafter.

Mahesh Shah, 67, declared Rs13,860 crore of unaccounted money after income tax authorities raided his house in Ahmedabad, but did not pay up Rs1,560 crore, the first installment of 25 per cent of the tax payable under the scheme. Nor was Shah traceable anywhere after I-T department rejected his IDS disclosure doubting some foul play.

I-T officials also raided the offices of his chartered accountant, Tehmul Sethna of Apaji Amin & Co LLP in Ahmedabad.

Sethna reportedly told the income tax officials that Shah had made a disclosure of Rs13,860 crore cash.

Shah, also a heart patient who kept a low profile, opting to travel in an auto rickshaw, reportedly become untraceable after the income-tax department in Ahmedabad cancelled his IDS Form 2 on 28 November under Section 193 of the Finance Act, 2016 (IDS).

Sethna claimed that as per the IDS scheme, Shah had to pay Rs1,560 crore or 25 per cent of the income declared, as the first installment to the I-T department by 30 November.

''We got the order from the I-T department saying that they had conducted a 360-degree search on this person, and from that it appeared that he was not going to pay the tax and this (declaration) is likely to be a hoax. Also, the I-T officials suspect some money laundering to happen through this, so they cancelled the form. I don't know how that (money laundering) could happen because the demonetisation came later on,'' the report quoted Sethna as saying.

While the I-T department refused to comment on the matter, Shah could not be contacted.

Sethna said Shah was in regular contact till 28 November and had assured him that he would pay the amount.

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