In a massive search operation covering 40 premises of religious trusts and other entities that preach about "oneness philosophy" and run wellness centres, the Income Tax Department has found Rs 500 crore of undisclosed income and links to investments in tax havens.
The tax authorities have seized cash amounting to Rs 43.9 crore during the search operations. Foreign currencies worth $2.5 million (Rs 18 crore) and about 88 kg of gold have also been discovered and seized.
"Total value of seizure so far is approximately Rs 93 crore. The undisclosed income of the group detected so far is estimated at more than Rs 500 crore," the Tax Department said in a release.
The search proceedings are still in progress. "The search action which is still in progress has covered about 40 premises located in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Varadaiahpalem," the tax department said.
The group of trusts and companies run by a spiritual guru has been found to be investing in a number of companies in India and abroad including in tax havens.
As per the income tax (I-T), some of these companies based in China, the US, Singapore, the UAE, etc have been receiving payments from foreign clients who attend the various residential "wellness" courses offered in India.
The department is investigating into diversion of income taxable in India to offshore entities by the group in this process.
Further, it has been revealed that one of the group trusts may be providing accommodation entries for other parties by receiving donations from them and then returning the money back under the garb of expenses and receiving a small percentage as fee.
"Instances have also been found where the group was not accounting for money received from foreign clients in cash in foreign currency and then exchanging the same in the grey market. All these leads are being pursued and investigation is in progress," the Tax Department said.
The group which was founded by a spiritual guru in the 1980s with "oneness" philosophy has also diversified into several sectors including real estate, construction, sports, etc in India and abroad.
It is presently managed and controlled by the spiritual leader who laid the foundation of the group and his son.
The courses attract residential customers from abroad and the group earns substantial receipts in foreign exchange. There was intelligence that the group had been suppressing its receipts which were ploughed into investment in huge tracts of landed property in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.