Actor Sonu Sood today denied allegations of tax evasion and illegal funding, days after tax raids at his Mumbai home and offices. Calling himself a law-abiding citizen, he also revealed that he had received offers of a Rajya Sabha seat from two parties but he was “not mentally ready” to join politics.
“Whatever documents, details they asked for, we gave. Whatever questions they asked, I answered. I did my part, they did theirs. Whatever questions they raised, we answered each and every one of them with documents. That's my duty. We are still providing documents…it is part of the process,” the actor told NDTV in his first interview since the raid.
“I make sure every single penny donated by anyone in this universe is accounted for. “
On the Income Tax department's allegations that he violated the law, he said, “Of course not.”
Earlier today, Sonu Sood also put out a statement on the raids at his properties in Mumbai for four days in a row last week. The 48-year-old actor, whose philanthropic efforts during the Covid crisis won huge praise and even earned him the moniker “messiah”, has been accused of evading taxes worth over ₹ 20 crore. The tax department also said his charity set up in July last year collected donations of over ₹ 18 crore but only ₹ 1.9 crore has been spent on relief work.
“It is very surprising. Whatever we collect is not just money donated by citizens. A chunk of that is also my remuneration from brand endorsements. I ask them to donate to charity which can save lives,” he said.
“I have 54,000 unread mails, thousands of messages on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter. It will not even take 18 hours to finish 18 crores. But I have to make sure every single penny is used in a proper way, for a genuine and needy person.”
The money, he added, had not been lying around for years but only for three-four months and he had to do due diligence before supporting a cause.
As for the charge that he had received foreign funding illegally, he said he “can't get a single dollar into my account”. The money was going directly to beneficiaries, said Sonu Sood.
According to the actor, the taxmen agreed that he had done “good work”.
“I asked them – have you ever seen this kind of documentation, details, paperwork? They said no…they were also happy with whatever they were seeing. They said it was the smoothest four days of raids for them.”
Some parties have linked the raids to his recent collaboration with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for a school education mentorship.
“I am not allying with AAP. You call me into any state – Karnataka, Gujarat, I will go immediately, like magic. I have worked in all states -- those ruled by BJP, Congress…”
He revealed that he had turned down offers of a Rajya Sabha membership because he didn't feel ready for politics just yet. “I declined two offers of Rajya Sabha seats from two different parties. Mentally I was not ready. I am currently happy in my place. Whenever I am ready, I will shout from the rooftops that I am ready,” he said.
For now, he said, he would continue with his charity, no matter what. “I didn't start to stop. It's just the beginning,” the actor grinned.