Exalogic case: I-T Dept collected documents, account details three years ago

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T Veena. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: A preliminary inquiry by the Income-Tax Department, three years ago, into the financial dealings of Cochin Minerals and Rutile Limited (CMRL) with Exalogic Solutions and others, has made the job easier for the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The ED has been probing the dealings of Exalogic, owned by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's daughter Veena Thaikkandiyil.

Based on the I-T Department's findings, both CMRL and Exalogic reportedly made moves to defend themselves from an ED probe initiated in 2021.

Kochi-based I-T Principal Commissionarate found a difference of Rs 135.64 crore in CMRL accounts between 2016 and 2019. The ED launched its preliminary probe based on this finding and recorded the statements of firms that had financial dealings with CMRL.

Exalogic approached the Registrar of Companies (RoC) in Bengaluru to temporarily freeze the firm's operations after the I-T Department's finding became public. The RoC put the company's functions on hold in 2022.

Empower India which had lent Rs 78 lakh to Exalogic, too, wound up its operations around this period. Sasidharan Kartha is a stakeholder in Empower India. CMRL approached the Interim Settlement Board challenging the findings of the I-T Department. The ED put its probe on hold after the Board took up the I-T report for consideration.

The Board issued its order more than a year later. CMRL argued that Rs 73.38 crore was not part of the income to be revealed to the I-T Department. The Board, however, said that a total of Rs 135.99 crore was part of the undisclosed amount, and tax should be paid on Rs 81.51 crore.

It further ordered that Rs 1.72 crore was paid to Exalogic for services not received and the amount was taxable. The Board granted CMRL prosecution immunity. However, this protection would cease to exist if it becomes evident in the SFIO or ED probes that the documents or financial statements submitted to the board were tampered with or fudged.

High Court to consider pleas on April 5
Meanwhile, the SFIO summoned the representatives of six of the 12 companies that had financial dealings with Exalogic to record their statements. They were asked to present themselves before March 15. However, the SFIO heeded the request of a few companies for more time.

The High Court would consider the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation's petition against the SFIO probe on April 5. Politician Shaun George's petition, which led to the investigation, would also be considered.

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