Income Tax (I-T) officials conducted simultaneous raids at over 40 premises of the Hotel Saravana Bhavan and Adyar Ananda Bhavan groups on Tuesday to check tax evasion.
Income Tax department sources told Express the searches were carried out in 40 premises across the country. “We have doubts that there may be tax evasion by these two groups. We have 40 teams conducting searches in Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country to verify it,” a source said.
The raids come in the wake of recent inspections on the premises of some schools in Namakkal and the SRM Group of companies last month and the Lion Dates Impex Pvt Ltd last week.
Sources in the know said the searches began at around 8 am. A total of 20 teams of I-T sleuths conducted raids in Chennai, while another 10 teams operated in other parts of the State.
As many as 10 outlets each of Saravana Bhavan and Adyar Ananda Bhavan were raided in Chennai. The sleuths carried out search operations in Tirunelveli, Madurai, Salem, Tiruchy and other places in the State.
A 33-member team raided Saravana Bhavan owner P Rajagopal’s property in his native place of Punnai Nagar near Nazreth in Thoothukudi district. Rajagopal reportedly owned a lodge, restaurant, farmhouse and a temple called Vana Tirupathi in the coastal town.
Ten teams operated outside the State to verify tax evasion of these two groups in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Vijayawada, an I-T source told Express. However, the I-T officials refused to divulge information regarding seizure of documents and unaccounted cash, if any, during the raids.
“A detailed hand-out will be issued by the department by Wednesday afternoon,” a senior I-T official said.
Hotel Saravana Bhavan, founded in 1981 by P Rajagopal, has emerged the largest vegetarian restaurant chain in the city offering south Indian cuisine. The group has outlets in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia and in the Gulf.
Adyar Ananda Bhavan Sweets and Snacks was founded by K S Thirupathi Raja in Chennai more than three decades ago. It had opened branches in Kancheepuram, Erode, Madurai, Tiruchy, Coimbatore, Tirupur. It has a presence in Karnataka, Delhi and Puducherry.