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HOUSE OF THE WEEK

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

'DMK repaid Balwa from bogus firms'

Kalaignar TV          
NEW DELHI: Rs 52 crore of the Rs 230 crore that DMK-controlled Kalaignar TV repaid to 2G accused Shahid Balwa came from 19 Kolkata-based firms with fictitious addresses that are not traceable, senior tax officials told the Joint Parliamentary Committee on telecom on Wednesday.

The payment is part of the Rs 200 crore suspected kickback for 2G licences but which Kalaignar TV says was a loan received from DB Realty through two other firms -- Cineyug and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables. The amount was returned with an interest of Rs 30 crore only after the CBI registered a case.

"The Central Board of Direct Taxes has said Rs 52 crore is being investigated as regards its source as the offices of the alleged firms are not traceable," JPC chairperson P C Chacko said. The repayment, the circumstances suggest, was done hastily with money being arranged from multiple sources.
Logo of DB Realty    

In response to a Congress MP's query as to when penal provisions could be invoked, the tax officials said this would be done after all stages of assessment were complete. They further said CBDT was concerned with assessing tax evasion and liability while criminal prosecution was the remit of other agencies.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha contested CBDT's suggestion that it would limit itself to tax liability issues, asking why violation of the Income Tax Act was not being viewed as a criminal offence. He also questioned CBDT's finding that Rs 200 crore given by DB Realty to Kalaignar TV was an inter-corporate deposit as claimed by the channel. He wanted CBDT to do a more thorough job of probing the funding of 2G firms.

The DB Realty payment links the 2GScam with DMK's first family as party chief M Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi is a share holder in the channel and was sent to jail in the case. CBI's case is that money was allegedly routed to Kalaignar TV for licences allotted to Swan Telecom.
Responding to the former finance minister's questions, officials accepted that not much headway had been achieved in the Aircel-Maxis and Vodafone cases where the progress was seen to be "glacial".

Tax officials said they did not find any diversion of funds infused into firms that won 2G allocations by way of foreign investments, suggesting that the money inducted was bona fide FDI.
JPC sources said CBDT, which made a presentation to the committee, did not have a coordination mechanism to tally and share findings with other agencies probing the 2G scam like Enforcement Directorate and CBI. Officials were urged to come back to the committee with a more detailed report on cases other than those involving nine firms named in the 2G licences.

CBDT also said the tax liability of a transfer of 75% of Unitech's telecom venture to three companies owned by Ramesh and Sanjay Chandra was being investigated for its tax implications. Also, the inflow of foreign equity into the Unitech firm that became Telenor, at a vast premium, is being looked at for tax issues as the argument that the transaction was out of Indian purview has been challenged. UAE-based Etisalat's 45% acquisition of Swan is also under similar investigation.

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Edited By Cen Fox Post Team
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