The Income Tax Department has raided several premises of infrastructure raw material marketplace Infra.Market during the past few weeks. Although the IT department did not specifically name the company, sources as well as several media reports have claimed that this concern company is Infra.Market.
Reports claim that the IT officials have been conducting raids on several Infra.Market’s regional offices. These regional offices include Thane, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Noida.
Information emerging from the initial probe indicates that the tax official have found damaging evidences of tax evasion. The tax evasion is estimated to be around Rs 224 Cr while the startup has also been accused of showing bogus purchases and unaccounted cash expenditure.
The IT department has claimed that Infra.Market’s directors have admitted to tax evasion during the investigation. However, it must be noted that none of the Infra.Market’s directors have still not openly commented to the media that they have admitted to tax evasion.
The serious charges against Infra.Market doesn’t end here. The Mumbai based startup has been accused of receiving huge funds from tax haven Mauritius and issuing shares to the concern investors at a highly exuberant rate. Tax officials claim that these funds were routed through hawala network or shell companies.
Mauritius has always been a thorny issue for Indian startups after repeated allegation that these funds are usually diverted through dummy companies. But Indian startups have frequently denied these serious charges.
IT department probe against the Infra.Market has come closely on the heels of its similar investigation against yet another unicorn startup Zetwerk. Several premises of Zetwerk have been raided since last one week on the allegation of tax evasion.
Being unicorn startups, both Infra.Market. and Zetwerk are highly funded startups. In fact, Infra.Market is backed by Tiger Global, the New York based VC giant pumping over $200 Mn in the Mumbai based startup.
Is this a witch hunt or the IT department has incremental evidences to pursue these probe against such high profile startups. Whatever be the case, the Indian startup industry as well as the ecosystem is expected to have a vocal voice over this issue.