M S Dhoni under I-T scanner over Rs 75-cr cheques received from Amrapali

Written by Appu Esthose Suresh | Updated: Mar 31 2014, 14:42pm hrs
Mahendra Singh DhoniMahendra Singh Dhoni has received four post-dated cheques worth Rs 75 crore from real estate entity Amrapali's chairman Anil Sharma.
Embattled Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni could now face trouble in an income tax investigation. The Ranchi unit of the income tax department is looking into tax implications of four post-dated cheques worth Rs 75 crore issued by real estate entity Amrapali Group's chairman Anil Sharma to Dhoni.

Issued in FY12, the cheques were to be encashed in 2014. Dhoni is the brand ambassador of Amrapali while his wife Sakshi Singh Rawat holds a 25% stake in Amrapali Mahi Developers, a joint venture between the firm and the Indian captain.

Sources in Amrapali said the income tax department had asked for details of the company after media reports as well as a raid by it in August 2013 on Amrapali Group offices in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Company officials who did not want to be identified admitted they had been called for questioning and that the investigation had been routed to the Ranchi unit, where the captain is an assessee. Dhoni is likely to be contacted soon about the cheques.

Dhoni and the Amrapali Group give different explanation for the cheques. Dhoni's spokesperson said the cheques were "a security" on the investment made by him in Amrapali Mahi Developers.

The Amrapali Group, however, said the money was given as an "assurance and commitment" for a cricket academy in Ranchi to be built by Amrapali Mahi Developers, and that the captain had since returned the cheques.

The Amrapali spokesperson didnt answer though as to why the cheques were issued in Dhoni's name and not to Amrapali Mahi Developers.

Dhoni's spokesperson Arun Pandey told The Indian Express in a text message: "I am not aware of the financial matters of MS Dhoni but, to the best of my knowledge, Anil Sharma has given cheques to MS Dhoni as security of the investment made by MS Dhoni in Amrapali."

A close aide of Dhoni, Pandey holds a majority stake in Rhiti Sports Management, which manages the Indian captain's endorsements. Dhoni had earlier held 15% stake in Rhiti Sports.

Amrapali said the cheques were given to Dhoni in connection with Amrapali Mahi Developers, which has a total share capital of R1 lakh. Formed in December 2011, it deals in real estate. "The cheques were given to MS Dhoni, who is our brand ambassador, for a cricket academy in Ranchi as an assurance and our commitment to the project. He has returned the cheques since the project did not take off," the spokesperson told The Indian Express.

Amrapali Group chairman Sharma incidentally is a JD(U) Lok Sabha candidate from Jehanabad.

Dhoni is already in trouble over his close ties to deposed BCCI chairman N Srinivasan.