Gupta brothers get lifeline as Indian tax authorities grant extension

2018-03-28 19:25
Ajay and Atul Gupta. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

Ajay and Atul Gupta. (Muntu Vilakazi, Gallo Images, City Press, file)

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An accountant representing the Gupta brothers has secured a seven-day extension for them, after they failed to appear before Indian income tax authorities.

The Indian publication Amarujala reported that the Gupta's were handed the lifeline on Monday after they failed to appear before Indian income tax (IT) authorities. The brothers were summonsed on charges of money laundering, fraudulently amassing properties and tax evasion.

Satyanarayan Thakar, a deputy director at the IT authority, met with an unnamed Gupta accountant on Monday. The accountant reportedly told officials he was ready to answer all their questions regarding the Guptas' tax affairs.

But Thakar insisted that the brothers appear in person, necessitating the requested seven-day extension.

The brothers are now expected to appear on April 2.

Requests made by the publication to both the Gupta brothers and their lawyers remained unanswered on Wednesday.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Gupta-linked train company in R5bn rip-off 

Earlier this month, the Times of India reported that Indian income tax (IT) authorities confiscated documents from several properties belonging to the family. The Guptas' used code names to hide the location of more than 120 properties purchased by the family since 2010.

Jagran.com also reported that, in addition to the properties and documents, authorities also seized 300 blank cheques signed by the brothers, and bank accounts totalling about R1.7m. The cheques were in the possession of Anil Gupta, brother-in-law of the Gupta brothers.

Whereabouts of brothers unknown

Another 12 individuals and entities linked to the Guptas were also under investigation. These included the Bank of India and the Bank of Baroda, allegedly for transferring more than R98m to one of the Gupta brothers.

Since the Hawks arrested several Gupta associates early in February, the brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh have apparently abandoned their business interests in South Africa. Their local affairs have been left in the hands of their lieutenants - Ronica Ragavan and Ashu Chawla. Both of them were among the accused that appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on February 15. They and their co-accused are facing charges of fraud, theft, money laundering and corruption.

The whereabouts of the brothers are unknown. It is suspected that they are hiding in Dubai, after they previously informed Indian income tax authorities that they were out of the country. News24  previously reported that an affidavit by Atul Gupta was deposed in Dubai.

READ: Glencore might buy back Gupta-linked Optimum

At the same time, News24 reported that several of the Gupta family's local businesses had applied for business rescue. Earlier this week, the North Gauteng High Court heard argument that the business rescue practitioners acting on behalf of the companies should be removed.

The applicant in the matter cited bias and a lack of independence by the rescue practitioners as the main thrust of its application.

Read more on:    gupta family

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