BENGALURU: Income-Tax officials carried out raids on multiple properties of V G Siddhartha, founder and owner of the Cafe Coffee Day chain of coffee bars, on Thursday.The raids, according to sources in the I-T department, were carried out in Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Hassan and Chikkamagaluru.
The raids which began on Thursday morning were conducted to unravel the suspected tax evasion by son-in-law of former external affairs minister, S M Krishna.
The properties that were raided include the Cafe Coffee Day headquarters on Vittal Mallya Road, Siddhartha’s Sadashivanagar residence, Amalgamated Bean Coffee (ABC) Curing Works at Hassan and Chikkamagaluru, Serai Luxury Resorts in Chikkamagaluru, Global Village in Bengaluru and others. I-T sources said multiple teams were involved in the raid. Other properties and investments made by him are also being scrutinised.
While S Ramesh, Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, said that the locations and other details of the raids would be disclosed after they ended, sources said that a total of 25 properties or establishments connected to Siddhartha were being assessed by I-T officials. In Hassan, for instance, a team of five officials have been looking into the documents of ABC works since 9 am.
This is the second major I-T raid to rock the state in as many months. In August, I-T raids on the properties of Karnataka Energy Minister D K Shivakumar had led to a prolonged political drama, as they were carried out when he was sheltering Gujarat MLAs. During the questioning of Shivakumar’s associates, the businesses of Siddhartha had also come under scrutiny.“The raid on Siddharth’s premises seems to be a mere charade to convey the message that raids are non-political and even BJP leaders are not being spared,” said G Parameshwara, KPCC president.
I-T raids on Siddartha just to counter critics?
Though the Income Tax (I-T) Department’s raid on the business and residential premises of former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna’s son-in-law V G Siddhartha made national headlines on Thursday morning, conspicuous silence prevailed in the political corridors. A complete contrast to the reactions that erupted when raids were conducted on Energy Minister D K Shivakumar’s premises last month.
While the silence in the BJP camp is understandable as the veteran Congress leader joined the party just six months ago, the Congress sees the raid as just a charade by the Modi government to silence political critics who have been accusing the Centre of targeting Congress leaders in poll bound Karnataka.
State Congress leaders dismiss the raid on Siddhartha’s premises as a mere eye wash. KPCC president G Parameshwara, while expressing his views on the raid, reiterated that the BJP government at the Centre had been misusing I-T and Enforcement Directorate (ED) to target Congress leaders in the state. “The raid on Siddhartha’s premises could be just to counter the criticism. It seems to be a mere charade to convey the message that the raids are non-political and even BJP leaders are not being spared,” he said.
The exercise is similar to the raid conducted on the premises of former union minister and BJP leader G M Siddeshwara, which was also meant to blunt allegations of political bias in I-T raids, another senior KPCC functionary told Express. The raid also in a way takes the sting out of allegations that there was more than what meets the eye behind Krishna’s decision to desert Congress and join BJP.