Ponty Chadha's financial transactions have been under the scanner for four months

The Delhi-based intelligence and criminal investigation unit of the Income-Tax Department on Wednesday conducted searches at nearly 20 places in different parts of the city and Uttar Pradesh in connection with suspected tax evasion by companies associated with liquor baron and multiplex businessman Gurdeep Singh “Ponty” Chadha.

During a search at the popular Centrestage Mall in Noida, owned by the Chadha Group, a team is learnt to have come across a “very large” chest allegedly containing huge amounts of cash. The chest was opened late in the evening.

The search and seizure operation was the culmination of a four-month-long tracking of the financial transactions of Mr. Chadha and his close relatives and associates.

Teams carried out simultaneous searches at several places, including the 13-acre farmhouse-cum-residence of Mr. Chadha in Chhatarpur, the residence of his son-in-law Gurjeet Kochar in New Friends Colony and other places, including Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk here. Searches were also conducted at an office in Moradabad and other premises of Mr. Chadha in Uttar Pradesh.

When a team reached the residence of Mr. Gurjeet Kochar, he allegedly tried to flee with two bags along with another person.

Money laundering suspected

In the searches, it was revealed that at least Rs.38 crore was allegedly “round-tripped” by Mr. Chadha through his son-in-law Gurjeet Kochar via the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The team suspects that the money was somehow deposited by Mr. Kochar in a bank account opened in the UAE and sent back to Mr. Chadha through the same account and shown as equity from the UAE.

If the suspicion is found to be true, it would attract money laundering charges apart from violation of the Income-Tax law.

The I-T Department also conducted searches at a Chatarpur farmhouse used by Lalit Kapoor, a former lower-rung government official, who is said to be a close associate of Mr. Chadha.

“Searches at several places are still going on and documents recovered so far will be subsequently studied. Some more persons are under the scanner,” said another official.

Mr. Chadha's group is also into real estate, film distribution, sugar and paper mills, besides running a chain of malls and multiplexes.

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