Black Money : Birla co funds may have gone to Swiss bank

New Delhi,Shrimi Choudhary:In the latest revelations on black money account holders, Swiss authorities have named the Mumbai-based industrialist Yash Birla and Sayed Mohamed Masood, chairman of City Limousine, among seven Indian nationals having HSBC Geneva bank accounts.

In the case of Yash Birla, income tax (I-T) department sources said probe indicates that funds raised by Birla Power Solutions, a group company of Yash Birla, through other means, such as the issue of local and foreign equity, were diverted to foreign bank accounts.

Birla Power Solutions raised Rs 250 crore through two global depository receipt issues in 2010 and Rs 22.48 crore through an FPO in 2006, according to data available in public domain.

According to the sources, the diverted amount is closer to Rs 300 crore. “We have strong evidence of tax evasion against Yash Birla and the promoters of Birla Power Solutions. The probe is still underway, the total evaded amount would be clear by June-end,” a senior I-T official told dna.

A spokesperson for Yash Birla Group said Birla has no individual bank account in his name or under his control. “This has been explicitly confirmed earlier by the Swiss bank in writing and the same has already been communicated to the Indian tax authorities,” the spokesperson said in an emailed communication.

Last year, tax sleuths had raided at least 20 offices of the Birla group across the country for alleged tax evasion. According to the sources, the I-T department found that the promoters of Birla Power have made huge foreign investments to the tune of hundreds of crores.

Later on, the I-T department found five undisclosed foreign bank accounts in the name of Yash Birla Group, which were suspected to held more than Rs 600 crore.

Sources said YBG has one account in Switzerland, while the other four are in Singapore. The HSBC bank account in Switzerland was opened by late Ashok Birla, father of Yash Birla, in 1990. Besides, the group is alleged to have three bank accounts with Barclays, one of which showed a balance of about Rs 300 crore. The fourth Singapore account is with Credit Suisse. Two of these bank accounts are in the name of a trust being operated on the instruction of Yash Birla.

Further, the department had found bogus sale bills running into hundreds of crores.

“The bogus bills were used to inflate the turnover of the company, while the money raised through FPOs and global depository receipts (GDRs) by Birla Power never came to the company,” said a source.

The acccouts of Masood, accused of running a ponzi scheme, were frozen a few years ago following a request from the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Fresh details about him and about Chaud Kauser Mohamed Masood, a director in Limousine have been sought by the Indian authorities, as per the notifications published.