The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered two separate cases against two deputy commissioners of Mumbai Customs and two clearing agents for allegedly clearing goods without payment of proper customs duty.
It has been alleged that they committed the unfair practice by using passports of people, who have lived abroad for more than two years.
The first FIR was registered against the then deputy commissioner Dinesh Fuldiya, who worked from December 2020 to August 2021. And another FIR was registered against Subhash Chandra, then deputy commissioner, who worked from August 2021 to July 2022. They were posted at Jawaharlal Nehru Customs House (JNCH) in Nhava Sheva, Raigad.
Both the FIRs have a common co-accused -Sudhir Padekar and Ashish Kamdar. They were Customs clearing agents.
The accused Dinesh Fuldiya, who is presently posted as Director General of Analytics and Risk Management, has made various expenses/purchases in his name and payment of those purchases/expenses were made from the account of Sudhir Padekar or through his brother Swapnil Padekar’s account/credit cards on several occasions.
He has purchased a washing machine, massage chair, Apple headphones, shoes, microwave and flight tickets.
Similarly, Subhash Chandra presently posted at the Directorate General of Goods and Services Tax Intelligence (DGGI) in Mumbai, used the ‘hawala’ channel to transfer money into the account of persons known to him and made other purchases that have been tracked and established by CBI during the preliminary investigation.
In the investigation, it has been found that dutiable goods were imported under the “Transfer of Residence” provision by the suspect private persons and the same were given “Out of Charge” by Dinesh Fuldiya and Subhash Chandra knowingly and dishonestly causing wrongful loss to the Govt. Exchequer and corresponding wrongful gain to themselves and obtained undue advantage from such custom house agents.
It has been revealed during the investigation that the said clearing agents procure Passports from various persons, who have lived abroad for more than two years and knowingly and dishonestly use the said passports for clearing consignments of household items of other ineligible persons.
The purpose behind using the passports of other persons is that as per Customs provisions, if a person has lived abroad for more than two years, he/she can import the used household goods from abroad by claiming an exemption up to Rs 5 lakh under Transfer of Residence” Provision.
The modus operandi adopted by the said syndicate is to use the passport credentials of those persons, who have lived abroad for more than two years to import goods, which belong to different ineligible parties settled abroad especially in gulf countries to evade customs duty.
The passport holder knows that the clearing agent is going to use the said Passport for clearing the consignments of household items, for which the Passport holder is paid Rs 15,000 per consignment in lieu of the use of his passport.
The said clearing agents have their accomplices in Gulf countries, who take orders from various persons settled in these countries. The said persons settled in Gulf countries, who want to send some goods/items to India, approach the said accomplices of agents.
Accordingly, the said accomplices of agents in Gulf countries pass on this information to the said clearing agents in India and these clearing agents in India obtain passports of persons, who have stayed in the said country from where the goods are to be dispatched. Using the said Passport obtained by the clearing agents, they file Baggage Declaration Form (BDF) by claiming exemption of the “Transfer of Residence” clause, which exempts duty payment on the value of goods below Rs five lakh, the FIR reads.
It was revealed that the goods so imported are undervalued to a large extent. It is further learnt that the clearing agents in India in connivance with their accomplices in gulf countries and Customs officials in India import electronic items along with other unknown goods in the guise of household items.
The said clearing agents, by adopting this practice, cause loss to the government exchequer by evading duty on dutiable electronic goods and other unknown goods.
The said act of importing dutiable goods as household items and bringing other unknown goods is not possible without the connivance of Customs Officers, who give out of charge to such consignments as physical examination of such consignments is mandatory.
This report is filed by ANI news service.