Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) has arrested five Customs superintendents and two clearing agents for allegedly being part of a cartel involved in clearing of goods without payment of proper Customs duty amounting to Rs2.38 crore by resorting to unfair practices. Searches were conducted at 19 locations in Mumbai, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Motihari (Bihar), Kurukshetra and Rohtak (Haryana).
The arrested officials have been identified as Brijesh Kumar, Dinesh Kumar, Hemant Gethe, Keshav Pandhi, Alok Kumar, clearing agent Deepak Parekh and his relative Ashish Kamdar. The accused were produced before the court on Thursday and were remanded to four days CBIcustody.
During search at the residence of suspect Deepak Parekh, who works at Unaccompanied Baggage Centre (UB Centre), JNCH, Nhava Sheva, documents containing records of cash and banking transactions with several people, including some Customs officers, were seized.
Scrutiny of the documents/articles revealed that from 2020 till 2022, the accused Customs officials, while being posted at UB Centre, Nhava Sheva, entered into a criminal conspiracy with Kamdar and Parekh, both residents of Dahisar, and others with intent to cause wrongful loss to the exchequer by importing dutiable goods under the ‘Transfer of Residence facility’. This provision permits people who have stayed abroad for two years or more to bring in used personal and household articles duty-free with some conditions as they are transferring residence to India.
The CBI had launched investigations into six separate cases after it came across monetary transactions of Customs superintendents using hawala network while being posted at the UB Centre.
The CBI said there was a transfer of Rs5,000 and Rs25,000 from the account of Kamdar to the account of persons known to Brijesh Kumar. Later, Rs12 lakh in Nov 2021 and Rs25 lakh in May 2022 was sent by Kamdar through ‘hawala’ to persons known to Kumar.
WhatsApp chats between the two also revealed five other transactions amounting to Rs3.5 lakh from May 2022 to Sept 2022. It was further learnt that Dinesh Kumar, while being posted at UB Centre, handled clearance/examination of consignments imported by Parekh and Kamdar in the same period. Transactions in thousands and lakhs were also made on several dates from 2020 to 2021.
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