The Income Tax department detected financial irregularities of more than Rs 650 crore after it raided two film production companies, two talent management companies and a leading actress, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said on Thursday without taking any names.
CBDT’s statement came as the Income Tax department on Thursday carried out for second day searches and raids at properties of filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl, Madhu Mantena and actor Taapsee Pannu.
The Income Tax searches are in connection with Kashyap’s Phantom Films, which was dissolved in 2018. Searches are also underway at several locations in Mumbai, including the properties of Shibhashish Sarkar (CEO Reliance Entertainment), Afsar Zaidi (CEO Exceed), Vijay Subramaniam (CEO Kwan).
Exceed Entertainment and Kwan Entertainment are Mumbai’s popular celebrity management agencies. Search operations are being carried out at Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Hyderabad. The group is mainly engaged in the business of production of motion pictures, web series, acting, direction and talent management of celebrities and other artistes. A total of 28 premises are being covered in different locations, which includes residences and offices.
During the search, evidence of huge suppression of income by the leading film production house compared to the actual box office collections has been unearthed.
According to officials, the company officials have not been able to explain discrepancy of around Rs 300 crore. Evidence related to manipulation and under-valuation of share transactions of the production house amongst the film directors and shareholders, having tax implication of about Rs 350 crore has been found and is being further investigated.
Evidence of cash receipts by the leading actress amounting to Rs 5 crore has been recovered. Further investigation is going on.
Apart from this, non-genuine/bogus expenditure by the leading producers/director having tax implication of about Rs 20 crore has been detected. Similar findings have been made in the case of the leading actress also.
Mobile data of many shareholders, including Anurag Kashyap, was wiped off. It is suspected that the phone data was deleted after the NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau) crackdown began on Bollywood personalities after Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
At the office premises of the two talent management companies, huge amount of digital data has been seized in the form of emails, WhatsApp chats, hard disk etc which are under investigation. During the search, seven bank lockers have been found which have been placed under restraint. Search is continuing in all the premises.
Phantom Films was established by Anurag Kashyap, director Vikramaditya Motwane, producer Madhu Mantena and the former head of UTV Spotboy Vikas Bahl. Films like Hasee Toh Phasee and Shaandaar were produced under the production house.
In 2018, the company announced its dissolution after sexual assault complaints against director Vikas Bahl by a former Phantom employee surfaced.
After dissolving Phantom Films, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap launched his new production company, Good Bad Films, whose digital affair started with film Choked. Vikramaditya Motwane and Madhu Mantena also moved on with their independent projects.