IRS accuses Escorts of evading taxes.

NEW DELHI: The Income Tax department conducted a “search and survey” operation of the Escorts Ltd offices and plants on Thursday for alleged I-T evasions and illegal appropriation of assets totaling several crores. The I-T sleuths also checked the book of accounts, cash, stock, and other valuables of Escorts and its healthcare arm, Escorts Hospitals, during the surveys. An officer from the I-T department informed The Times of India, “We will now prepare our report based on the findings of this survey.” A spokesperson for Escorts Ltd. confirmed the I-T survey, saying, “It was not a raid but a survey that the department conducts for ascertaining facts. Our income tax and finance departments have cooperated with I-T officials and we have presented all the documents that they wished to see. We do not have anything to hide.” The Escorts group was primarily accused of “illegally” tying up clients with other parties. 18 years ago, the hospitals were built after being designated as charitable institutions. However, three years ago, the property acquired by the charitable institute was transferred to some individuals as one of the owners of the company acquired 80% of shares of these hospitals, 10% went to a leading doctor, and another 10% to some more individuals. The I-T surveys also sought to ascertain allegations of tax evasion made by the hospital authorities during this time. Escorts Ltd. reported losses in the first quarter of this fiscal year despite these sell-offs. The Escorts group, which recently sold off its holding in the motorcycle venture with Yamaha, is also planning to dilute about 26% of its holding in the healthcare venture. Even though its total revenue increased from Rs 168.83 crore in Q1 last year to Rs 205.8 crore in Q1 this fiscal, Escorts had previously announced that it had posted a net loss of Rs 16 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2003. The surveys were carried out in accordance with sections 131 and 133A of the Income Tax Act, and all the hospital’s records had been seized.

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