|CORAM:||George Mathan (JM), Shamim Yahya (AM)|
|CATCH WORDS:||Revision, share application money, share premium, shell company|
|COUNSEL:||J. P. Khaitan|
|DATE:||September 19, 2014 (Date of pronouncement)|
|DATE:||October 5, 2014 (Date of publication)|
|FILE:||Click here to download the file in pdf format|
|Creation of shell companies and subscribing for shares at high premium constitutes tax evasion by money laundering. It is a case of clear human ingenuinity with the clear and contumacious intention to defraud the revenue|
(i) The first question comes to our mind is as to why this hurry in completing the reassessment proceedings especially when substantial time is still available and detailed inquiry is expected. Normally, once reopening is done by issuance of notice under section 148, the full time as available under the Act is used by the AO but conspicuously in all such cases the assessments are closed fast. These are special cases where within such a short period of issuance of notice under section 148, assessment stands concluded without any investigation or verification or inquiry worth its name. One is left wondering as to whether it is on purpose and design or whether it was in the normal course as this feature is special only to such companies where large share capital has been introduced.
(ii) Tax avoidance is an accepted principle. Any person is entitled to adjust its affairs in such manner as to minimize tax liability. However, the methodology and acts done in such cases of capital formation is not tax avoidance. It is more in the nature of tax evasion by money laundering. These transactions have in effect three limbs. The first limb is the creation of the shell companies with substantial share capital which is balanced with inventories in the form of shares in other shell companies. The second limb is the transfer of such shell companies to persons who desire to use such substantial share capital companies for converting their unaccounted money into accounted funds and use such shell companies to do legitimate business. The third limb is when the shell companies after being taken over, the assets in the form of inventories are encashed whereby the unaccounted monies are laundered and brought into the company for conducting the legitimate business.
(iii) It is relevant because the creation of the shell companies and introduction of the share capital is not the only issue that comes up. This is but the tip of the iceberg. A perusal of the Balance sheet and Profit & Loss account in the case of the assessee shows that the share application monies received by the assessee along with the premium are represented in the Balance sheet in the form of current assets being the unquoted equity shares in other such companies. That is the share application money received by the assessee is used for making further investments in other such similar shell companies from whom cash is taken and rerouted through cheques. These shell companies which are acquired by the interested third parties purchase these companies at a fractional amount of the value of the shares.
(iv) These are cases of clear human ingenuinity with the clear and contumacious intention to defraud the revenue. It is not the handiwork of one person alone. One person has created the shell, another has funded the shell with an intention to launder unaccounted funds and after having acquired the shell has used it for converting its funds also. There is no information as to who are the latest beneficiaries of such shell companies and for what purpose the companies are being used. This is just the reason why the provision of section 56(viib) has been introduced.
(v) Receipt of share application money with huge share premium warranted detailed enquiry by the AO and not a perfunctory enquiry.