PNB Scam: Mehul Choksi imported 750 kg of gold without paying a rupee in duty, under IT dept scanner since 2012

Mumbai: The PNB scam is proving to be the proverbial iceberg – there is more to it than what is protruding above the surface. For instance, there are shocking revelations about one of the absconders in the PNB fraud, Mehul Choksi, who was under the scanner of the Mumbai Income Tax Department in 2012 for import duty violations

Sample this. Among Choksi’s group firms, Gitanjali Gems imported 750 kg of gold items, Gitanjali Jewellery imported 171 kg and Gili India Ltd imported 182 kg. But none of them paid a single rupee as duty! These details have been culled out of replies received under an RTI query of activist Manoranjan S. Roy.

After the Mumbai Customs’ shocking revelations, Roy checked further and learnt that Gitanjali Jewellery Ltd. was not even registered with the Registrar of Companies. ‘‘There are no records available of this company’s existence, yet it succeeded in importing 171 kg of gold undetected,” Roy said.

When Roy raised the matter with the Mumbai Customs Department, they washed off their hands, claiming it was not within their jurisdiction to ensure whether any gold-diamond importer was registered with the registrar of companies or MSTD. They contended that their jurisdiction pertained to collection of customs duty, Roy said.

I-T probe found 4,900 cr in unexplained funds

More ghosts have been resurrected by the probe into the PNB scam. It is learnt that there were glaring Income Tax violations by the Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi group of companies as well. The IT Department had swooped down on the group in 2017 and submitted a detailed probe report to the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the finance ministry. The highlight of the report was that money to the tune of Rs 4,900 crore remained unexplained to agencies.

A news portal (India Today.com) has accessed the I-T probe report, which says that the group was accepting “on money/cash” against sale of jewellery/diamonds which was over and above the sale consideration recorded in the book of accounts. The total detection on this account alone was Rs 252.48 crore.

Also, the group received Rs 284 crore during March 2013-April 2014 from Jade Bridge Holdings, a Cyprus-based company and Forcom Worldwide Investment Ltd, a Mauritius-based company, by way of share capital and high share premium. The source of these funds and creditworthiness of these foreign entities remain unexplained. In yet another transaction, the flagship company, Firestar International, received foreign funds to the tune of Rs 271 crore from Singapore-based Islington International Holdings, whose beneficial owner is stated to be Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Mehta. The portal says the assessee was not able to provide necessary supporting documents in support of creditworthiness of either Purvi Mehta or Islington International Holdings. The sources of funds also remained suspicious, the exclusive report in the Indian Today news portal adds.

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