SHOCKER: Days after I-T seizes Rs 400 cr cash, tainted Bhutani Group bags UP’s film city bid

Other bidders now say that Bhutani Group, facing I-T probe, has taken advantage of financial lacuna in the bid document by YEIDA by quoting such astronomical figure of 18% revenue when the minimum ask was 5 % and that it is also not clear if a tainted real estate company like Bhutani would be in a position to either deliver commercials or handle a sensitive project like this.

lucknow | Updated: 31 January, 2024 2:17 pm IST

NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: Barely two weeks after Income Tax (I-T)’s mega operation to recover unaccounted cash from real estate majors yielded a Rs 1,026-crore haul from these Noida-based companies , Bhutani Group — which is one of the four real estate companies being investigated for tax frauds and cheating —  has been awarded the bid, as part of a consortium led by film producer Boney Kapoor, to develop UP government’s ambitious Film city near the Noida international airport.

Bayview Projects LLP, that has 48% stake by Kapoor, 26 % by Pramesh Construction Company led by Ashish and Prem Bhutani and rest 26% by Noida Cyberpark , won the bid for Rs 1,510 crore. The bids sought by Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), on revenue sharing agreement model, with a minimum investment to be made by concessionaire for Rs 50 crore for the first two years, Rs 75 crore for next three years and Rs 100-crore for next five years. 

Officials in UP government are now worried after I-T has slapped a fresh notice to the embattled Bhutani Group on huge tax invasion following a haul of Rs 430 crore recovered during the major operation even as other partner Kapoor enjoys a clean image in the film industry and in India for having produced blockbuster movies like Mr India, Wanted, Mom, Pukar, Company, Judai among others.

“We are delighted to have someone of Boney Kapoor’s stature to take film city project. But we are now very worried with Bhutani group’s involvement after Income Tax raids on them. While the income tax has recovered cash, the bid given to them will undergo further scrutiny for final clearance,” said a top Yamuna Expressway Industrial Authority  (YEIDA) official.

According to the bids received,  Bayview Group offered 18 % of revenue, while Bokadia submitted bids for 15.12 % sharing, actor Akshay Kumar fixed it at Rs 10.8 % and Bhushan Kumar-led Super Cassettes (T-Series) proposed 5.27 % revenue.

Other bidders now say that Bhutani Group, facing I-T probe, has taken advantage of financial lacuna in the bid document by YEIDA by quoting such astronomical figure of 18% revenue when the minimum ask was 5 % and that it is also not clear if a tainted real estate company like Bhutani would be in a position to either deliver commercials or handle a sensitive project like this.

“Besides, the bidding document does give any minimum financial figure , so the companies would claim in future will say hat there was no  revenue or show less revenue and pay huge percentage on that thus depriving of the govt from a huge revenue income had they put in a minimum financial figure also,” said Bakul Jain, a leading tax expert in Lucknow.

The other three bidders, who have been ruled out by UP government are — actor Akshay Kumar (Super Technobuild), Bhushan Kumar ( T-Series), and 4 Lions (film producer K C Bokadia).

Officials in UP government further disclosed that several complaints have been registered against Bhutani Group builders by private individuals, before the Noida Police, who have bought properties from them under their “Assured Cash Return” and “Brokerage in cash” schemes.

Separately, the Yogi government has not been keen on dealing with Bhushan Kumar, considering his routine run-ins with industry singers like Sonu Nigam accusing him of not sharing profits apart from controversies around hurting Hindu beliefs through his sex and sleaze songs and films . Kumar was recently accused of rape charges but was let off by the Bombay high court after Mumbai Police filed a cancellation report following the admission by the accused.

Bid document  for film city also mandates a moratorium of eight years, which essentially means, that no concessionaire will have to pay Yamuna Expressway authority till the beginning of ninth year.

Kapoor, however, said he was excited to join hands with UP government as he has shot several films in UP besides his childhood memories of growing up in Meerut. His daughter Jahanvi’s second film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl was also shot partly in Lucknow.

The film city, which is being set up in 230-acre land of sector 21 of Yamuna City.

Officials have confirmed that Bhutani Group’s involvement will put a spotlight on the ongoing investigations by the income tax and accusations of any quid pro quo.

I-T sources confirmed they are trying to ascertain the links between UP government officials and Bhutani Group promoters, including and not limited to ownership of commercial spaces in City Centre Ghaziabad and retail spaces in Alpha Pride and Alpha Infinity projects of the real estate major.

“So far we have had witness statements. We are trying to corroborate other evidences,” said a senior I-T official in Ghaziabad.

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