In an interview with a leading newspaper, controversial actor-turned-philanthropist Sonu Sood has claimed that the officials of the Central Board of Direct Taxes who had raided his locations were appreciative of his “social service” at the time when the search operation was going on at his house. As Sood and his associates are accused of tax evasion to the tune of approximately Rs 20 crore and violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while raising funds from abroad, he said that the four days of raids were not much of a hassle for him, adding that out of the approximate Rs 17 crore still left from the money he had raised, he planned to build a charitable hospital in Hyderabad.
“The funds are still lying with the crowdfunding platform. I was just a voice for that platform to raise funds,” Sood said. He insisted he had furnished all documents the I-T officials had sought.
“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,” Sood told The Times of India.
“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,” the actor, who is also the brand ambassador of the AAP government’s mentorship programme in Delhi, said.
” I am not going to waste people’s hard-earned money, and my hard-earned money. I am saying the latter because 25%, to at times 100% 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,” Sood explained.
About the charity work he wishes to do with the unspent money, Sood said, “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.”
Claiming that the four-days-long raids did not hassle him, Sonu claimed, “… 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.”