Embattled Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni might face trouble now in an income tax investigation. The Ranchi unit of the Income Tax Department is looking into tax implications of four post-dated cheques worth Rs 75 crore issued by Amrapali Group Chairman Anil Sharma to Dhoni. Issued in the financial year 2011-2012, the cheques were to be encashed in 2014. (Also Read: Dhoni didn’t lie to Mudgal panel, says BCCI)
Dhoni is the brand ambassador of Amrapali while his wife Sakshi Singh Rawat holds a 25 per cent stake in Amrapali Mahi Developers Private Ltd, a joint venture between the firm and the Indian captain. Sources in Amrapali said the Income-Tax Department had asked for details of the company after media reports as well as a raid by it in August 2013 on Amrapali group offices in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Company officials who did not want to be identified admitted they had been called for questioning and that the investigation had been routed to the Ranchi unit, where the captain is an assesse.
Dhoni is likely to be contacted soon about the cheques. Contacted by The Indian Express on the sidelines of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, Dhoni refused to comment on the matter. Dhoni’s spokesperson and the Amrapali group, however, give different explanations on the cheques. Dhoni’s spokesperson said the cheques were “a security” on the investment made by him in Amrapali Mahi Developers. The Amrapali group said the money was given as an “assurance and commitment” for a cricket academy in Ranchi to be built by Amrapali Mahi Developers, and that the captain had since returned the cheques.
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The Amrapali spokesperson did not answer why the cheques were issued in Dhoni’s name and not to Amrapali Mahi Developers. Dhoni’s spokesperson Arun Pandey told The Indian Express in a text message: “I am not aware of the financial matters of M S Dhoni but, to the best of my knowledge, Anil Sharma has given cheques to M S Dhoni as security of the investment made by M S Dhoni in Amrapali.”
A close aide of Dhoni, Pandey holds majority stake in Rhiti Sports Management, which manages the Indian captain’s endorsements. Dhoni had earlier held 15 per cent stake in Rhiti Sports. Amrapali said the cheques were given to Dhoni in connection with Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd, which has a total share capital of Rs 1 lakh. The company formed in December 2011 deals in real estate. “The cheques were given to M S Dhoni, who is our brand ambassador, for a cricket academy in Ranchi as an assurance and our commitment to the project. He has returned the cheques since the project did not take off,” the company spokesperson told The Indian Express. Amrapali group Chairman Anil Sharma incidentally is a JD(U) Lok Sabha candidate from Jehanabad.