The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has started a full-fledged inquiry into the functioning of Anant Media Pvt Ltd, the flagship company owned by Tarun Tejpal. On December 23, instructions were issued to assessment officers to start inquiries encompassing share transfers, source of investments in what are described as “entry providing companies”, as well as the evasion of capital gains tax, to a “logical conclusion”.
The on-going inquiry is based on the fact that on two dates in 2006, eight shareholders of Anant Media — which publishes Tehelka magazine — transferred 25,758 shares to a company called Englightened Consultancy Services (earlier known as A K Gurtu Holdings). On the same date, Tejpal himself acquired 4,125 shares of Anant Media from two Mumbai-based shareholders, thus substantially increasing his stake in the company.
The rate at which the shares were sold was not declared by the company, as per documents available on the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Further, none of the shareholders of Anant Media, except Inderjit Tejpal (Tarun’s father), declared capital gains in their annual income tax returns for the relevant year. In the case of Inderjit Tejpal too, initial scrutiny has shown, the “nature and working” of the LTCG (Long Term Capital Gain) is not ascertainable from the Income Tax details on the database.
Scrutiny further shows that after the 2006 share transfer, the company issued shares at an “exorbitantly high premium” of Rs 13,189 per share for 2006-07 and 2007-08, Rs 11,810 and Rs 10,623 for 2008-09, and Rs 2,505 for 2011-12, to various companies.
The CBDT has now informed its investigation wing that “most of the companies from whom such huge share premium is shown to have been received appear to be entry providing companies”.
COO Neena Tejpal said, “If the Income Tax Department is initiating an inquiry, we will take stock of it at the right time... All our accounts and brand valuation are in order. As far as I know, everything is in the clear.”
The tax authorities are focusing on the following:
* The “unexplained increase” of Rs 25 lakh in the opening balance of share application money for 2006-07 for Anant Media. This is relevant for the year 2007-08 since the limitation for reopening assessment will expire in March 2014.
* The genuineness of the share capital, with exorbitant premium shown to have been received by Anant Media in 2007-2013.
* The source of investment by Enlightened Consultancy Pvt Ltd, which the tax authorities have described as “purportedly a paper company”, and others in the shares of Anant Media.
* The officers assessing those who transferred shares of Anant Media have been advised to initiate proceedings to bring to tax any capital gains arising from such transfer.
Officials said that following the initial scrutiny, notices were being sent to the company and shareholders to explain the transfer of shares and resale of shares at a high premium to companies and individuals, which purportedly exist only on paper.