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Mumbai family declares it’s richer than Ambani


Mumbai-based family together declared Rs2 trillion , more than Mukesh Ambani’s $21 bn of wealth , but the income tax department is not buying that claim

Mumbai, December 7, 2016: A family of four Indians told the government it had evaded tax on $29 billion of income. That fortune would make them wealthier than the nation’s richest man.

The Mumbai-based family including the patriarch, his wife, son and sister together declared Rs2 trillion — more than Mukesh Ambani’s $21 billion of wealth — during a government program offering amnesty on undisclosed income, the ministry of finance said in a statement on Sunday. Another man from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat revealed Rs13,860 crore of illegal income, locally known as black money. Both the declarations were rejected, the ministry said.

“After due inquiry, it was found that these were persons of suspicious nature and very small means and the declarations could have been misused,” according to the statement. The department has since started a probe “to determine the intention behind these false declarations.”

Modi, who is attempting to fulfill his election pledge of unearthing black money, in September offered tax evaders an amnesty in exchange for a one-time levy of 45% on their income. That program led to a disclosure of Rs67,380 crore of illegal income excluding the two cases rejected by the finance ministry. While the government didn’t elaborate on why it found the transactions suspicious, analysts said these may be cases where several individuals used the people to launder cash.

Mumbai’s Sayed family gave their address in an affluent Mumbai suburb, but older information with the tax authorities showed three of the four lived in the city of Ajmer, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and their address had only been changed in September, according to the finance ministry’s statement.

The two-storey building on a busy shop-lined street in Mumbai looks nothing like the home of what would be one of India’s richest men — and a far cry from Ambani’s 27-storey residence. The Sayed family name doesn’t appear on a board listing 12 flat owners. Stores selling bed linen by Bombay Dyeing & Manufacturing Co. and suitcases from Samsonite International SA flank the ground floor entrance and a Honda City and Ford EcoSport compact SUV were parked in the driveway Monday morning.

‘Drugs, diamonds or Dawood?’

Mahesh Shah, from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, was questioned by tax officials on Sunday, NDTV reported citing a tax official. Shah had earlier told a local language TV channel that the money wasn’t his and that he disclosed it on behalf of various politicians, bureaucrats and builders for a fee, NDTV reported.

While both Rajasthan and Gujarat are home to populations known for their entrepreneurial spirit and cash-based businesses, they also share a border with India’s arch rival Pakistan. India has long accused terror groups based in Pakistan of using counterfeit or smuggled Indian currency to foment violence across the border.

Several Indian commentators found the Rs2 trillion declaration incredulous.

“Wow!!! Drugs, Dawood or diamonds?” tweeted Samir Saran, vice president at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, referring to Dawood Ibrahim, an Indian mafia boss India accuses Pakistan of harbouring. “Or all of the above?”

Source: Bloomberg