GST authorities expand probe into alleged tax evasion by BharatPe

An official with the GST department said that the investigation into alleged tax evasion by fintech firm BharatPe has been expanded to include the issuance of fake invoices by those close to the firm’s ousted co-founder Ashneer Grover.

GST authorities are now reviewing BharatPe books from the previous four years to see if bogus invoices for services were issued as well.

Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain were dismissed from their positions at BharatPe after a preliminary report of an external audit commissioned by the fintech firm’s board revealed that the couple engaged in alleged indiscretions and financial irregularities.

GST officials have been investigating BharatPe’s books since last year for alleged issuance of invoices without any actual supply of goods, and the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) conducted a search operation at the fintech firm’s headquarters in October last year.

According to a statement by an official to PTI, “The original GST evasion case pertained to issuance of fake invoice without any actual supply of goods. Following the recent allegations against Madhuri Jain, we are now looking into the fake invoice issuance without any actual service.”

The GST investigation officers are going to look into the books of accounts of BharatPe, which was founded in April 2018, and will reach a final conclusion on tax evasion in a fortnight, according to the official.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) law allows tax collectors to examine any company’s books of accounts for the previous five years. BharatPe, which has hired a law firm and risk advisory consultants to conduct a more thorough investigation following allegations of financial irregularities, fired Jain, the company’s head of controls, last month.

She was dismissed for alleged financial irregularities, such as using company funds for personal trips abroad, beauty treatments, purchasing electronics, and paying for housekeeping services.

BharatPe, which enables shop owners to accept digital payments via QR codes, stripped Grover of all titles and positions last week for his alleged “misdeeds” and may take further legal action, including reclaiming some of his shareholding.