Exclusive! Sonu Sood talks about the income tax raids; says the officials applauded his social work – Times of India

0
11


Last week, Sonu Sood’s house was raided by the Income Tax department. There were allegations levelled against the actor regarding the usage of funds collected under his foundation. In an interview with BT, he fields questions regarding the accusations, and says that he continues to be determined to achieve his goals – personal, professional and humanitarian. Excerpts:

In the last one week, as the I-T officials raided your properties, multiple allegations were levelled against you. The list includes unutilised funds in the Sood Charity Foundation, diversion of funds for tax evasion, fake contracts and circular transactions with your business partners-companies, etc. How did you react to the allegations?

We have presented every single document, in fact, more documents than they wanted. I don’t have an inch of land in Jaipur or Lucknow as alleged and we have already provided the documents for that. As far as the violation of the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) norms go, any company or a foundation that’s listed for more than three years is eligible for an FCRA registration to receive funds. My foundation is not registered, so I can’t receive these funds.

The funds are still lying with the crowdfunding platform. I was just a voice for that platform to raise funds. All the help goes directly from the crowdfunding platform to the hospital (where a needy patient is being treated) or the medical colleges for education. Saying that I violated FCRA norms is wrong because the money didn’t come to India or to my foundation. There is not even one dollar, one cent or a penny that has reflected in my account. Every single person that we treated medically, we have given all the documents related to it, like the details of the patient, hospital, doctor, even their PAN numbers and phone numbers have been provided to the officials. We have every single thing on record, like details about whom we helped and how we helped. We have presented all the documents to the honourable department.

There was one point that drew everyone’s attention more than the other allegations — that out of the Rs 18.94 cr of donations you collected through your foundation, only a small percentage (Rs 1.9 crore) was put to use. Why is that? How do you plan to utilise it?


Any foundation that receives funds has a time limit of one year to use the funds. If the funds don’t get utilised, you can extend it to another year. These are the rules. I listed this foundation only a few months ago, close to the second wave of COVID. Otherwise, during the first wave, when I started helping the migrants, I had people stepping forward who offered to book buses for the migrants. We weren’t collecting money then. I started collecting funds (for my foundation) only in the last four-five months. As per rules, I have over seven months more to use these funds. I am not going to waste people’s hard-earned money, and my hard-earned money. I am saying the latter because 25 per cent, to at times 100 per cent of the remuneration I have charged for brand endorsements directly went to my foundation. I did endorsements free of cost if the brands donated money. So, the funds in the foundation are also my personal funds, which I donated. I have had little kids breaking their piggy banks to offer `600 or `800, a blind woman donating her five months’ pension… and this amount is not less than crores of rupees for me. When the officials were going through the emails we received, there were 53,000 unread emails and around 8,000 unread messages on my WhatsApp chats. These were people trying to reach out to us for help. I have to make sure that every single penny we have gets utilised in the right way. And that is exactly why the funds are not fully used. We don’t want to waste money and break the trust of people.

I am planning to open a hospital in Hyderabad. A large number of patients that came to us, were treated at hospitals there. The medical infrastructure at some hospitals in Hyderabad is on a different level. The idea is that in the next 50 years, whether Sonu Sood remains or not, the free treatment of patients should continue with this charitable hospital. My dreams are big and I am on a mission. In the last couple of days, I have already spent Rs 2 crores on the hospital project. It will be a state-of-the-art, free of cost, medical facility of the best of quality for the needy. We are already working on an orphanage and school, too. Every project is in place.

Take us through what happened at your Mumbai home during the raid.


It was a surprise when one day they came in early in the morning. While my elder son was travelling, my younger son got stuck in the house for many days as you can’t leave the house till the officials are done with their duties. I am a very good host. I welcomed them home and made sure they were comfortable and were taken care of. I told them that since they were going to be our guests for the next three-four days, I would like to make this a special experience for them. I told them, ‘You might be doing so many raids through the year, but at the time of leaving my place, you will say that this was the best experience so far.’ So, after four days, I asked them the question, and they admitted to this being their best experience so far. And I said that it will remain the best ever. When they left, I said, ‘I am going to miss you,’ and we all had a good laugh. They acknowledged the kind of work that I have been doing. They appreciated my work and said, ‘We know the kind of work that you have been doing. It is phenomenal.’ They were kind and sweet. They saw all the emails and messages where people were asking for help — to get a liver transplant or even asking to save their lives. There were people standing in front of my house, on the roads and spending their nights and days out there waiting for me to come out. It showed how much trust they have in me. During these three-four days of inquiry, these officials would ask for documents, and we would provide them. This used to go on the whole day, from early morning till the night. They were making sure everything was in place.

What do you think triggered this raid?

They will be the right people to answer this question. I was doing my job before and will continue to do so after they have left. There have been almost 12 surgeries that we have helped get done in the last few days after they left. At my end, nothing will stop me.

Now that you have submitted your papers and your side of the story, what happens next?

It is a process, it takes time. They keep asking for papers and documentation. We keep providing them with those and make sure that everything they ask for is provided to them as soon as possible.

Do you plan to join politics in the future?


I respect politics. We already have very good politicians. As far as I am concerned, I am not mentally prepared right now. I don’t know what will happen after two to five years. I never deny anything, but right now, I am not in the frame of mind to take such a big plunge. I have already declined two Rajya Sabha seat offers in recent times. The party said you deserve to be in Rajya Sabha, as it will give you a bigger platform to help more people, but I thought it might not be the right time to take that call, and so I politely declined those offers. I told them that I will definitely accept that when I am ready, but right now, I am not ready. I am thoroughly enjoying what I am doing right now.



Source link

Share this