The Income Tax (I-T) department has staked a claim to over Rs 24,000 crore from proceeds of the proposed sale of Sahara Group’s Aamby Valley City in Pune, which is to be auctioned by the official liquidator of the Bombay High Court, according to documents reviewed by The Indian Express.
While the official liquidator has pegged the reserve price of the property at Rs 37,392 crore, the Income Tax department has claimed Rs 24,843 crore, excluding interest, from the sale proceeds. According to sources, this claim is the tax allegedly due to the department from Aamby Valley Ltd (AVL), the company that owns Aamby Valley City.
The claim was submitted to the official liquidator on April 26, after the Supreme Court ordered the auction of Aamby Valley in February for non-submission of over Rs 5,092 crore by the Sahara Group.
On Monday, the Supreme Court is expected to decide on the next stage of the auction. The apex court had earlier directed Sahara chief Subrata Roy to deposit Rs 1,500 crore by September 7 to establish his “bona fide”. It said that if the group pays up on time, the auction process would be halted.
In January, the tax department had issued a Rs 24,646 crore demand notice to AVL after conducting a special audit of the company. The department, as part of a special investigation and audit into the account books of AVL, found that an income of over Rs 48,000 crore for assessment year 2012-13 was allegedly not reflected in record books, and raised a fresh tax demand and penalty amount.
According to the tax agency, the parent firm had allegedly floated a clutch of special purpose vehicles whose incomes were later accounted on the books of AVL with which they were merged.
On August 14, the official liquidator published an auction notice of Aamby Valley City in leading newspapers inviting prospective bidders for the integrated hill city township spread over 6,761.6 acres near Lonavala and two land parcels measuring over 1,700 acres.
The official liquidator said in the auction notice that the prospective bidders need to submit KYC forms and on qualification, bids along with 15 per cent of the reserve price as earnest money. Interested buyers can submit their bids between September 21 and October 3, and the auction will be conducted through MSTC Ltd on October 10 and 11. According to sources, a number of foreign and domestic entities have expressed interest in the sale.
In 2011, Sebi alleged that the Sahara Group has raised over Rs 20,000 crore from 30 million investors illegally. The Supreme Court had in August 2012 ordered the Lucknow-based conglomerate to deposit with the regulator over Rs 24,000 crore collected from nearly three crore investors through issuance of some bonds. Interestingly, not many investors have come forward to claim refunds.
Roy was sent to jail on May 4, 2014, for not complying with the order of the apex court, and is currently out on parole.