Denying all allegations of tax evasion and illegal funding, actor Sonu Sood addressed the media on Monday after series of raids in his offices and residence in the past week and said that he is a law-abiding citizen and all the necessary documents have been provided to officials of the Income Tax department, ANI reported.
On September 15, Sood’s offices in Mumbai and Lucknow were raided by officials of the Income Tax department. The income tax officers arrived at the actor’s premises on September 15 afternoon and also carried out a “survey” in Sood’s Mumbai residence on September 16.
In a statement issued on September 18, the Income Tax department said that actor has evaded taxes of over Rs 20 crore after searching his Mumbai residence for three days in a row.
According to the authorities, his organisation Sood Charity Foundation also raised Rs 2.1 crore from overseas donors using a crowdfunding platform that violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act that governs these kinds of transactions.
Set up during the beginning of the pandemic in July 2020, the foundation has collected donations of over Rs 18 crore till April 2021. Out of this, Rs 1.9 crore has been spent on relief work. The balance had been lying unused in its bank account, the authorities said.
The authorities also said that the Lucknow group which Sood entered a deal with was involved in diverting funds and “bogus” billing of subcontracting expenses. They added, “Evidences of such bogus contracts found so far are to the tune of over Rs 65 crore. Further investigations are being carried out to establish the full extent of tax evasion. Cash of Rs 1.8 crore has been seized during the course of the search.”
Addressing the issue, Sood said to the media on Monday, “Everything is in process and in front of everyone. We’ve given all details to everyone. They’ll do their job and I’ll do mine.”
Sood further explained that the money which he makes from the brand endorsements and the donations he receives from people from all over the world for charity are usually diverted to the foundation and not to his personal accounts. “In my foundation, the maximum funds we get is through my endorsement fees and it takes time to spend them. Not even a single penny has come to my account,” he said.
People have been linking the raid to Sood’s recent connection with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s party Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Recently, Kejriwal had announced that Sood would be the brand ambassador of the Delhi government’s ‘Desh Ke Mentor’ (country’s mentor) programme.
Speaking about this Sood said, “We are teaching students across the country. If any government will call me, I’m there for them. I’ll even become a brand ambassador if you call me in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab.”
In an interview to NDTV, Sood mentioned that he had been offered Rajya Sabha seats on two occasions by two different parties but he is not ready yet.
Regarding the raids, Sood said that the IT department was satisfied and happy with the documentation and paperwork saying “these were the smoothest four days of raid” and also praised him for his good work.
On the difference between the amount of money received and spent, Sood said that it has just been a few months since his charity received the money since the second wave in March 2021. “I make sure every single penny donated by anyone in this universe is accounted for,” he said.