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Income Tax department searches offices of Apollo Hospitals group

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Chennai/Hyderabad: The Income Tax department on Tuesday searched offices of the Apollo Hospitals group in Chennai and other places for possible tax evasion.

Department officials declined to comment on the issue further.

“The IT department visited our hospitals today (Tuesday) and we extended our complete cooperation to them. We have always conducted ourselves with the highest degree of diligence and would like to reassure our patients, shareholders, and stakeholders that we shall uphold their trust and faith in us,” the group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, when reports of the search operation first came in, shares of Apollo Hospitals, which had scaled a high of Rs.1,497, fell to Rs.1,431.55 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The shares, however, staged a recovery when unattributed statements from the department said the operations were a routine affair. The scrip finally ended at Rs.1,466.75, with a gain of Rs.19.60, or 1.35 percent, over the previous close.

As part of its searches, the Income Tax department on Tuesday stalled financial transactions of the group at Hyderabad.

Department officials closed two blocks at the group’s main facility in Jubliee Hills.

Sources in the hospital told IANS that the administration and management blocks were closed as part of the searches in Chennai and New Delhi.

This was apparently being done to prevent manipulation of records. Sources, however, said the day-to-day operations of the hospital were not affected.

This was the first time in 33 years that the department conducted searches at Apollo Hospitals.

Apollo, which has its corporate headquarters in Chennai, also has a significant presence in Delhi. In Hyderabad, its hospitals at three locations have a total bed strength of 1,200.

In Andhra Pradesh, Apollo has a 150-bed hospital in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam and a small rural facility in Chittoor, the district its founder Prathap C. Reddy comes from.

The Apollo Hospitals Group, started by cardiologist Prathap C. Reddy as a 150-bed hospital in 1983, now operates 9,200 beds across 64 hospitals, as per information available with the company. Its founder is a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan.

The group is now run by his four daughters — Preetha Reddy, Shobana Kamineni, Suneeta Reddy and Sangita Reddy. (IANS)(Photo: Youtube)

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HSBC under probe for abetting tax evasion

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Indian tax department had issued a warning notice to global banking massive HSBC to prosecute its Swiss and Dubai offices for allegedly abetting tax avoidance by four Indians and their families.

The tax authorities continuing the investigation on UK-based HSBC which was disclosed on Monday, regarding alleged abetment of tax evasion through its Geneva branch. HSBC said that it is cooperating with the authorities and hoped a ‘’significant’’ financial impact as a result of these investigations.

According to tax authorities, they have sufficient evidence against HSBC involvement in illegal activities. HSBC  had been scanned under Reserve Bank of India also which revealed the dissonance in the banking operations, including allowing a decoy customer to open a  suspicious account in September 2014.

HSBC was examined by Indian tax authorities after the leaked list of hundreds of Indian clients of its Geneva branch from French and German.

This will help Indian government to fight against black money which is allegedly stashed in Switzerland, there have been apprehensions that the illegal money has been shifted to some other place like Dubai in recent years. Similar lists made in other countries also, prompting probe.

HSBC said that it had first issued its summons in February 2015 from tax authorities while fresh notices were issued in August and then in November during the announcement of annual results, without disclosing the names of Indians who were involved in the tax evasion through its Swiss and Dubai units.

The bank on Monday reported a revenue of $1.84 billion in 2015, up from $1.74 in 2014 from Indian operations. However, it has a profit of $606 from India operations, including from global banking and market business. For India, its customer account had the balance of $11.8 billion at the end of 2015, up from $11.7 billion in 2014.

Meanwhile, the RBI report alleges that HSBC could have possibly optimized the violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) by allowing customers to bank with offshore private banking locations.

A sample check of HSBC’s outward remittances has found that bank has breached the limits under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme, which allow Indians to open accounts abroad, reported RBI. It also reported on alleged deficiencies in KYC procedures.

The UK-based bank has been under the scanner of financial sector regulators in many countries. In December 2012, the US authorities had slapped a fine of $1.9 billion on the lender for breaking US anti-money laundering rules. (Inputs from agencies)

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