The Income Tax department has detected an undisclosed amount of over Rs. 500 crore from the premises of self-styled godman and spiritual guru Kalki Bhagavan, who claims to be the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu.
I-T officials on Wednesday simultaneously raided a string of 40 premises, under a conglomerate of trusts and companies where the guru ran "wellness courses."
Here are more details.
Guru's premises in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Varadaiahpalem raided
I-T officials searched through the guru's premises in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Varadaiahpalem in Andhra Pradesh. The searches are still on.
In a press release, which didn't identify Kalki Bhagavan by name, the I-T department said it acted on a tip-off that the "wellness group" had been suppressing receipts that are plowed into investments in abroad and landed property in Andhra and Tamil Nadu.
I-T dept seizes Rs. 93 crore in cash, gold, diamonds
Notably, the I-T department seized hoarded cash worth Rs. 43.9 crore in Indian currency, along with $2.5 million (Rs. 18 crore). Foreign exchange in other currencies was also found and seized.
Additionally, officials seized 88 kg of undisclosed gold (valued at over Rs. 26 crore), undisclosed diamonds amounting to 1,271 carats (valued at Rs. 5 crore).
The total seizure amounts to Rs. 93 crore.
Group earned unaccounted income from property sales
During raids, I-T officials also found evidence that the spiritual guru's group had been suppressing receipts at various centers/ashrams regularly.
The evidence was discovered from key employees who kept records of cash collections stashed outside of accounts to make investments elsewhere and purchase properties over and above documented values.
The group also earned unaccounted income from property sales over and above documented values.
Undisclosed income of group estimated at over Rs. 500 crore
"A preliminary estimate of such unaccounted cash receipts is Rs. 409 crore from FY 2014-15 onwards," the I-T department noted. "The undisclosed income of the group detected so far is estimated at more than Rs. 500 crore. The search proceedings are still in progress."
IT department investigating diversion of income to offshore entities
Another important revelation was that the group has been investing in several companies in India and abroad, including tax havens.
Some of these companies, based in China, USA, Singapore, UAE, etc., were found to be taking payments from foreign clients who attend the residential "wellness" courses in India.
The I-T department is now investigating the diversion of income taxable in India to offshore entities.
Group didn't account for foreign currency from foreign clients
Furthermore, it was found that the group also received donations and returned them as "expenses," receiving a small percentage as fee. The group also did not account for money received from foreign clients in cash in foreign currency and exchanged it in the grey market.
Who is Kalki Bhagavan?
Kalki Bhagavan was born Vijay Kumar Naidu. He started his career as a clerk with Life Insurance Corporation.
He founded the 'Jeevashram' school in 1984 to provide alternate education to his disciples. He also started a 'Oneness University' at his Chittoor campus.
In 1989, he declared himself 'Kalki', Vishnu's tenth avatar.
His wife Padmavati and son NKV Krishna are partners in running this trust.