Demonetisation: News18 sting operation reveals how black money helps hire Pakistani artistes

Central government’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes is being projected as a huge blow to the hoarders of unaccounted cash worth crores and has posed a major challenge to those clandestine cash deals which was carried out to evade tax.

A sting operation carried out by the investigation team of News18 India on the managers of some very well known Pakistani artistes shows how black money is used to crack deals with these artistes.

News18 India conducted sting operations on the managers of Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Pakistani model Mawra Hocane and actor Fawad Khan.

Demonetisation: News18 sting operation reveals how black money helps hire Pakistani artistes

Posing as a manager of a Delhi-based industrialist, the reporters of News18 India approached managers of above mentioned Pakistani celebrities with a proposal to perform at the wedding function of the industrialist’s daughter.

In the first case, the reporters of News18 India approached the manager of Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan with a proposal. Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan is famous Pakistani singer, has sung more than 50 Bollywood songs, and has performed in numerous concerts and live performances in India.

A team of undercover reporters of News18 India met Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan's manager named Manu Kohli who runs an artiste management company in upscale Hauz Khas area in New Delhi. It is Kohli who manages all the performances of Khan in India.

The reporters told Kohli that they have come with a proposal for Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan to perform at a wedding hosted by Agrawal, a Delhi-based industrialist.

Kohli informed the reporters that Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan would charge Rs 25 lakh for the performance excluding other expenses incurred on travel and boarding of his entourage that consists of eight people. He also informed that apart from this there will be additional service tax that needs to be paid.

Further Rakesh Gupta, partner of Kohli told the reporters that they will provide all the invoices and will properly pay the service tax. Gupta said, “There will be no hanky panky. Everything will be clean. If you want to pay by cheque, draft or through real-time gross settlement systems (RTGS).

The conversation made by Gupta hinted at a fair dealing. But the perception was to be soon dismantled.

The reporters after a while asked Kohli and Gupta if it will be possible that on papers the payment can be shown for Rs 5 to 7 lakhs and rest can be paid in cash. After some negotiation, it was agreed that that Rs 10 lakh will be paid legally with proper documents and the rest Rs 15 lakh will be paid in cash.

When asked whether they should first be given the cash or the amount that will be shown as the fees, Gupta settled for taking cash first, to confirm the date.

A similar deal was struck with the manager of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan wherein out of Rs 65 lakh (the total amount to be paid to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan for his performance) Rs 23 lakh was to be paid legally by paying proper tax and the rest would be paid in cash.

After striking the deal with the managers of the two singers it was the time to test the waters with Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan.

The reporters posing as managers of Agrawal, a Delhi-based owner of a pharmaceutical company approached the manager of Fawad Khan with a proposal of Khan performing at the wedding function of Agrawal’s daughter.

The script was same and followed the same dialogue pattern. Here's how it went (edited excerpts):

Reporter: You must have heard about our company. It is into medical products. Mr Agrawal is the owner. It is his daughter's wedding; it is the first big function in the house. Money is not the problem. His daughter and son-in-law are very excited that some celebrity should participate in the function.

Fawad's Manager: So you want him basically for the sangeet.

Reporter: Actually there are five functions. Dates for four have been finalised which I have already told you. One is yet to be finalised. Will let you know. They want different celebrities for each occasion; at least for one, they want Fawad Khan. His daughter is a big fan of Fawad.

Fawad's Manager: Is it in Delhi?

Reporter: Yes!

Fawad's Manager: Little difficult.

Fawad's Manager: The issue is of him coming to Delhi. I do not think it is possible as of now.

Reporter: Why?

Fawad's Manager: You have not heard of India-Pakistan issue

Reporter: That is in Mumbai. There is no problem in Delhi.

Fawad's Manager: I do not think it will work out. But I will check.

Reporter: We have one function in Gurgaon also.

Fawad's Manager: That is Delhi only.

Reporter: Yes, it is Delhi only. But Gurgaon is very safe. Delhi is also safe. It will be a private function. There will be no big crowd.

Fawad's Manager: I will check once.

Reporter: Can you please tell me an estimate?

Fawad's Manager: I will tell you the estimate.

Reporter: Please tell me how we shall make payment. With all white money, it will be very problematic, assuming if it is Rs 60-70 lakh.

Fawad's Manager: It is for one person.

Reporter: If it is for one person, so, for a 70-plus group I assume it will be around Rs 70-80 lakh. Giving all in white will be a problem for me.

Fawad's Manager: The group will go in CR.

Reporter: Whatever it may be. Giving all in white will be a problem.

Fawad's Manager: We can decide in a percentage. What should I give you as of now? I will give you the original cost then we do not take anything in writing. You can tell about percentage on phone. You just need to tell percentage. I will calculate the amount.

Reporter: I feel if we do not talk these things on the phone it will be better

Fawad's Manager: OK, if you say 25 percent, I can take in which ways, advance or anything. I can calculate 25 percent out of total percentage and I know this much you want to go in black and rest in white. Then we can decide.

What the conversation simply meant was that 25 percent of the amount that was to be paid to Fawad Khan would be paid in black. Further, Fawad Kahn's manager told the reporters that by depositing the money directly into Khan's UAE account they can save a lot on taxes.

Post demonetisation, the effect of the move on black money is being debated upon and this sting operation carried by News18 India highlights the extent to which black money is circulated in the system.

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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2016 21:07:08 IST

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