Tax department provisionally attaches flat of former advisor to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray

Tax department provisionally attaches flat of former advisor to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray thumbnail

The Income Tax department has provisionally attached a south Mumbai flat purchased last year by Ajoy Mehta, the former advisor to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988, sources privy to the development told ET. The department concluded that Pune-based businessman Avinash Bhosale was the ‘beneficial owner’ of the flat, the sources said.

The I-T department probe found that the seller, Anamitra Properties Pvt Ltd, was a shell company floated by Bhosale to ‘hold’ the ‘benami asset’ (the flat), which he subsequently sold to ‘old acquaintance’ Mehta, the sources added.

According to a valuation report, the fair market value of the property has been pegged at Rs 10.62 crore as of October 2020 when the sale took place. Mehta had bought the flat for Rs 5.33 crore. Mehta, however, told ET that it was a bona fide purchase.

“I have purchased it with my life savings of 35 years. As far as the market rate is concerned, it was bought at a price higher than the legally government determined market rate,” he said.

According to the sources, the probe revealed that during the purchase of the flat in 2009 the shell company took an unsecured loan from Indiabulls Financial Services Ltd (IBFSL) ‘under the instructions of Bhosale’ to pay both the consideration and stamp duty, thereby hiking the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio to over 100%.

The department found that in the financial year 2009-10, Bhosale allegedly paid unaccounted cash of around Rs 15.20 crore to Indiabulls and received unaccounted money of Rs 1.7 crore. Bhosale used this cash to purchase the south Mumbai property.

The flat was then leased to Indiabulls and a security deposit of Rs 6 crore was used to pay the loan to IBFSL. However, the security deposit was paid from the proceeds of the sale of the flat to Mehta in 2020, despite the termination of an agreement between the Indiabulls subsidiary and Anamitra Properties in 2018. Bhosale and Mehta were issued a show cause notice under Section 54 A of the Act and asked to give evidence and appear in person, but they never presented themselves before the probe officer (initiating officer, in this case). They, however, provided submissions in the case. Avinash Bhosale’s construction firm ABIL group did not respond to ET’s email till press time Sunday. A spokesperson for Indiabulls said that the “hypothesis mentioned around the purchase of property and cash etc. is completely erroneous and baseless.”

The property was mortgaged to the company in 2008 and a loan of Rs 4.35 crore was given against the mortgaged property at an interest rate of 18% per annum. The entire loan with interest was fully repaid in 2011 and the mortgaged property was released after receiving the full loan amount, the spokesperson added.

Deal gone wrong

According to the documents with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) that ET has accessed, Anamitra Properties was incorporated in 2008 by Nikhil Gokhale and Vivek Nagarkar as directors and 50% shareholders. In May 2009, Anamitra Properties bought the flat in Samata CHS in Nariman Point for Rs 4 crore. The finance was provided through a loan of Rs 4.35 crore availed from IBFSL.

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