KOCHI: The investigation wing of the Income Tax department raided the offices and residence of businessman Faris Aboobacker in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka as part of the probe into alleged tax evasion and black money hoarding behind real estate deals by his companies. Faris, who is a Chennai-based real estate businessman, has been summoned to appear for interrogation.
The raids started simultaneously at around 8 am. The Income Tax department carried out the raids after conducting a preliminary probe into the business activities of Faris. The probe revealed that Faris has stakes in 92 companies operating in various parts of the country. He has offices in Kochi and Chennai. A team also raided Faris's residence in Koilandy.
Officers from the Kochi and Chennai Investigation Wings also reached Faris's offices in Kochi and Kozhikode. The team also raied the office of Shoba Developers in Thrissur. Faris's office in Chennai and offices of firms located in Bengaluru and Mumbai where he has stakes were also raided. According to sources, documents and electronic devices were seized.
"It was a joint search operation by investigation units in multiple states. The investigation is being conducted by the Kochi and Chennai units. It was found that Faris registered land in the name of various firms with NRIs at the helm to evade tax. The money transactions for these land deals were carried out abroad. Even for the registration, the minimal value of the land is recorded in the document. A huge tax amount has been evaded through this operation. Even most of the firms to which land was sold are suspected to be benamis of Faris. The search at the office of Shoba was held following information about the land deal between Faris and the Thrissur-based real estate company," an Income Tax official said.
Though Faris has been summoned to appear for interrogation, he is yet to respond. "He could not be reached despite several attempts. We spoke to his relatives who claim that he is in Chennai. However, his office staff said that he is in London. A notice directing to appear for interrogation has been sent via email as well. He has to be questioned in detail to get the real picture of the land procured across India," an officer said.
Faris was in the news over allegations regarding his association with CPM leaders in Kerala. Earlier, the opposition had alleged that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan maintained a close association with the controversial businessman.