The Settlement Commission has rejected the plea of a top executive of the Aditya Birla group for grant of immunity from prosecution following the discovery of Rs 25 crore unaccounted cash during a raid conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in October 2013.
Shubhendu Amitabh, the group executive president of the Aditya Birla Management Corporation Limited (ABMCL), had approached the Settlement Commission for grant of immunity and payment of one-time taxes but the Commission in its ruling last month said his declaration contained “incomplete facts”.
Senior officials in the Central Board of Taxes (CBDT) told The Indian Express that after receiving the ABMCL executive’s petition, the Settlement Commission had approached them. The Commission was then informed that the declaration made by the executive was incomplete and did not present the complete picture of matters which are currently under scrutiny of the tax department.
“Now that the Settlement Commission has rejected the plea of the ABMCL official, our taxation matter will proceed on course. We are currently awaiting a reply to the notice we sent to the company for filing their complete tax returns for the relevant years,” a CBDT official said.
When contacted for reaction to the development, a spokesperson for the Aditya Birla group told The Indian Express, “ Since the matter is sub judice, we have no comments to offer.”
Following the raids, the Aditya Birla group had issued a statement, which said that they were “taken aback” by the discovery of cash at one of its offices and that they have taken a “very serious view” of the matter.
An amount of Rs 25 crore cash was recovered from the ABMCL office in October 2013 shortly after the CBI filed an FIR against Hindalco in the coal blocks allocation case. The tax sleuths had also recovered documents and diaries which listed partly coded receipts of payments which had not been declared to tax authorities. The Rs 25 crore recovered in cash was also part of the listed payments taking the estimated undeclared income computed by the tax authorities to around Rs 150 crore.
Interestingly, the rejection from the Settlement Commission comes at a time when the CBDT has been granted permission from the Supreme Court for getting access to the second set of “Birla diaries” which were recovered by the CBI during the same raids. CBDT officials said only last week they scrutinised the diaries which list payments made during election time to various politicians over the years by a Birla Trust and will soon obtain a copy of the same.