IT Raids Against SRK's KKR Find 'Evidence' of Dubious Ownership Pattern, Mauritius-Based Shell Companies Linked

A battery of 10 officials from the IRS and the income tax (IT) department strode into the CAB and KKR franchise offices at Eden Gardens to check for IPL-related documents and computer files. Tax officials who conducted search operations at the offices of the Bengal Cricket Association (CAB) and Shah Rukh Khan Co-Owned Kolkata Knight Riders till the early hours of Thursday in Kolkata claimed to have found "incriminating evidence" of irregularities. Kolkata Knight Riders franchise/Team is jointly owned by SRK, Juhi Chawla and husband Jai Mehta.

Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla

"We have found incriminating evidence. We will investigate further. We needed to have a look at certain transactions and we've found whatever we were looking for," said Indian Revenue Service Deputy Director Akhilendu Jadhav.

The main angle that the sleuths of the Directorate of Income Tax Investigation were looking for on the probe into the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises was the legality of money transfers from tax havens abroad, primarily Mauritius, officials explained.

Juhi Chawla's Husband Jai Mehta

This apart, officials of the Directorate of Enforcement were probing the legitimacy of transactions between the franchise and the state's cricket board, the officials added.

Searches at both the board's office at the Eden Gardens stadium and the premises of Kolkata Knight Riders and its parent Red Chillies Entertainment of actor Shah Rukh Khan at ITC Sonar Bangla and Shakespeare Sarani began at 3 pm on Wednesday.

CAB joint secretary Biswarup Dey, who was present during the raids, said the IT officials went through various files of KKR and IPL.

“We handed over whatever they wanted. Some were related to 2008. Some papers we could not give which we would give later,” said Dey.

IT officials reportedly could not trace some files pertaining to agreements between the KKR and CAB. IT officials may visit the offices again, sources said.

The I-T raids may have been part of a nationwide crackdown on all the franchises in wake of the IPL scam, but it has raised serious questions about the ownership pattern in KKR. The public perception is that the KKR is co-owned by Bollywood badshah Shah Rukh and his one-time co-star Juhi Mehta and her husband Jay Mehta, but the I-T sleuths are now probing several Mauritius-based shell companies that have been linked to the Kolkata franchise.

According to sources, the I-T officials were specifically looking for files of a Mauritius-based company, through which funds have been routed to Red Chillies Entertainments Pvt Ltd, a company owned by Shah Rukh Khan and wife Gauri, that co-owns KKR. Interestingly, sources say, the taxmen have found out that Shah Rukh and Jay Mehta have very little stake in the team. The majority money had come from Mauritius. Investigators are trying to track down the money route to the source. Knights are rated the second most valuable IPL franchise brand.

I-T officials hit four places simultaneously on Wednesday afternoon: the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) office, a CAB library that KKR (Red Chillies) uses as its office, KKR’s public relations agency Gameplan, and even ITC Sonar that hosted the Knights during matches at Eden. Late in the evening, IT officials also called upon CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya’s house. Taxmen are also looking into Red Chilles’ dealings with a company called Craving Dreams that handled all their post-match IPL parties at the official team hotel.

An income-tax report, published in the media earlier this week, not only raises certain uncomfortable questions about the holding pattern in three franchises, namely, KKR, Kings XI Punjab and the Rajasthan Royals, but also hints that IPL chairman Lalit Modi has interests in all three.

The federal revenue department had Wednesday broadened the probe into the financial deals of IPL, even conducting search operations on three of its event management and broadcast firms in Mumbai, apart from the franchises.

The 10 franchises under scrutiny are Kochi's Rendezvous Sports, Pune's Sahara group, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Deccan Chargers, Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.

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