In an action involving 100 of its officers and a number of police teams, the Indian Income Tax Department conducted raids on 133 stores of the Joyalukkas jewellery retail chain across the country on Wednesday.
All the stores were shut and employees not allowed inside when they turned up for work in the morning. Tax officials said the raids were due to suspected tax evasion.
Authorities said the Joyalukkas group was suspected of having suppressed actual sales figures and for possessing inordinately high amounts of cash deposits.
In January last year, after the government’s demonetisation of the ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes, a scrutiny by authorities found that Joyalukkas had sold more than 5.7 tonnes of gold jewellery estimated at ₹1,500 crore ($236 million) between April and November 2016. The sales have all been accounted for by Joyalukkas but tax authorities say the company has not paid the 1 percent central excise duty, amounting to ₹16 crore ($2.5 million) that was applicable on jewellery sales from April 2016.
Income Tax officials were quoted as saying that the action was coordinated by the Chennai wing of the department and that raids were conducted in the cities of Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Thrissur (where the group is headquartered in India) and other locations in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal.