A family of four in Mumbai claimed that it had $29 billion in undeclared revenues—a fortune that supersedes the wealth of the country’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani.
But the Sayed family’s disclosure, which came during a tax amnesty on undeclared income, is probably bunk according the India’s Ministry of Finance who rejected the declaration, Bloomberg reports.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement: “After due inquiry, it was found that these were persons of suspicious nature and very small means and the declarations could have been misused.”
It added that it would be investigating “the intention behind these false declarations.” The ministry had also reportedly rejected a disclosure of over $2 billion from a man in the state of Gujarat.
The false disclosures constitute the latest absurdity to emerge from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bungled campaign to sniff out illegally obtained or untaxed “black money.”
In early November, India’s leader unexpectedly banned the country’s two largest banknotes, the 500 rupee and 1000 rupee notes, which had accounted for roughly 86% of all cash in circulation. But the effort to stamp out tax evasion and beat currency counterfeiters caused massive lines at banks and ATMs and left ordinary Indians struggling to purchase essential goods.
The amnesty under which the two rejected disclosures were made was implemented in September and allowed tax evaders the chance to declare their income without being prosecuted. The program, which subjects disclosures to a one-off 45% tax, has so far unearthed the rupee equivalent of almost $10 billion in illegal money.
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Indian officials did not provide details on why the Finance Ministry found the rejected declarations fishy but, according to Bloomberg, analysts have speculated that money launders might have siphoned cash through the Sayed family.
The address provided by the Sayeds, according to the Finance Ministry’s statement, tracks back to a two-story building in a Mumbai suburb, on a street where shops sell bed linen and suitcases.