Karnataka

Was VG Siddhartha’s letter written by someone else?

In a day of dramatic developments, the Income Tax department has now come out to rubbish the allegations made against in the letter written on VG Siddhartha’s letterhead on 27 July. It suspects the authenticity of the note as the “signature does not tally with Siddhartha’s signature as available in his annual reports.”

This lends an element of conspiracy to the case of the missing Siddhartha. It has been 24 hours since the owner of Cafe Coffee Day went missing on Nethravathi bridge in Mangaluru, with an eyewitness who saw a man jumping off the bridge on Monday evening making people fear the worst. 

The Income Tax department in a detailed note points out that the investigation in Siddhartha’s case “arose from the search in the case of a prominent political leader of Karnataka”. The needle of suspicion is pointing to a few leaders who were raided in the last couple of years. Incidentally, DK Shivakumar who was among those raided, tweeted today to say that Siddhartha had called him on Sunday, saying he wanted to meet him. Shivakumar has been close to the SM Krishna family. Siddhartha is former chief minister Krishna’s son-in-law.  Shivakumar also had his doubts about the letter.

The note of the office of the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax of Karnataka points out that a Singapore citizen was found with unaccounted cash of Rs 1.2 crore and he admitted the money belonged to Siddhartha. 

The note points out that it was when news of Siddhartha planning to sell his stake in Mindtree broke out that facts were verified by the department. Since there was no application filed by the assessee before the sale of the shares, the department carried out a provisional attachment of 74,90,000 shares of Mindtree owned by Siddhartha and Coffee Day. The department says that of the Rs 3200 crore Siddhartha received, he repaid a loan of Rs 3000 crore. 

In the note reportedly written by Siddhartha, he alleged “lot of harassment from the previous DG Income Tax in the form of attaching our shares to block our Mindtree deal and then taking position of Coffee Day shares.” He wrote that “this was very unfair and led to a serious liquidity crunch.”

But the department says it acted as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act. 

The clarification issued by the department has only muddled the waters more. If the letter indeed was not written by Siddhartha, then who authored it. Was there someone pushing Siddhartha to taking the extreme step?

Lot of questions that need answers. 

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