The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated legal proceedings by registering two separate cases against two Deputy Commissioners of Customs and two other individuals. The accused are suspected of operating a cartel involving customs officials and clearing agents at the Unaccompanied Baggage Centre (UB Centre) in JNCH, Nhava Sheva. It is alleged that they engaged in unfair practices to clear goods without paying the appropriate customs duty.
Conspiracy and Involvement
Between December 2020 and July 2022, the customs officials under investigation, while serving at the UB Centre in Nhava Sheva, allegedly conspired with Ashish Kamdar, Dinesh Fuldiya, and unidentified public servants and private individuals. The objective of their conspiracy was to clear consignments of household items for ineligible individuals without payment of proper customs duty.
Modus Operandi and Accomplices
The clearing agents associated with the accused customs officials reportedly obtained passports from individuals who had resided abroad for more than two years. These passports were then used to facilitate the clearance of household item consignments for other ineligible persons. This scheme exploited the provision that allows individuals who have lived abroad for more than two years to import used household goods by claiming an exemption of up to Rs5 lakhs under the transfer of residence category. The clearing agents had contacts in Gulf countries who would receive orders from individuals residing there and seeking to send goods/items to India. These individuals would approach the agents through their Gulf-based accomplices.
Complicity of Customs Officials and Clearing House Agents
Despite being aware that consignments of ineligible persons were being imported using the passports of eligible individuals, the accused customs officials, while stationed at the UB Centre, handled the clearance and examination of such consignments. The clearing house agents (CHAs) involved in the scheme allegedly paid bribes to Sudhir Padekar, who acted as a collector and custodian of the money on behalf of Subhash Chandra and Dinesh Fuldiya, as stated in the FIR.
The CBI has filed FIRs against the accused customs officials and private individuals under relevant sections of the law. The investigations will aim to establish the veracity of the allegations and ascertain the full extent of the conspiracy and its participants.