The income tax department Monday raided the prestigious Lilavati Hospital here that is frequented by VVIPs, officials said.  The raids began at around 9 a.m. in the hospital and the office of the trust which manages it, both located in the same premises in Bandra west. The hospital, worth an estimated Rs.7 billion, is at the centre of a bitter family feud.

Details of the ongoing raids were not immediately available. The hospital trustees were not available for comments. The hospital is frequented by VVIPs, including Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, the Dalai Lama and others. The hospital in Bandra is governed by the Lilavati Kirtilal Mehta Medical Trust, which was formed in 1978. Seven of the 11 trustees are from the Mehta family.

The searches comes as four members of that family – Prabodh Mehta, Rashmi Mehta, Chetan Mehta and Bhavin Mehta – have been accused of using in the Supreme Court of siphoning money from the hospital to a bank account in Licehenstein.

The petition has been filed by a Delhi resident, Harsh Raghuvanshi, who claims that the Mehtas are using the hospital for money-laundering. The Supreme Court had asked the Central government and the Reserve Bank of India to follow up on his complaint.

The LGT Bank in Lichentstein has given the Indian government a list of nearly 30 Indians who operated undeclared bank accounts there. It’s not clear if the raids against the Mehtas are connected to that list, which has been shared with the Supreme Court by the government.

Income Tax officials also searched the offices of Mayfair Realtors and Vestra Infrastructure in Mumbai – companies which had loaned money to the Lilavati Trust in 2002.

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