Mumbai: In a recent development regarding the Customs cartel case, which was reported by FPJ on Tuesday, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is now delving into a potential hawala angle and examining monetary transactions between the arrested deputy commissioners, Dinesh Fuldiya and Subhash Chandra, and clearing agents.
Allegations of goods clearance without proper Customs duty
Fuldiya and Chandra stand accused of clearing goods without paying the required customs duty. Both individuals were stationed at the unaccompanied baggage centre (UB centre) in Jawaharlal Nehru Custom House, Nhava Sheva. Following their arrest, they were produced before a court, which remanded them to CBI custody until Friday.
As part of the investigation, searches were conducted at seven locations, including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Patna, Samastipur (Bihar), and Khargone (Madhya Pradesh), targeting the accused and their accomplices. These searches led to the recovery of various incriminating documents and articles. Alongside Fuldiya and Chandra, private individuals Sudhir Padekar and Ashish Kamdar have also been booked.
Criminal conspiracy and misuse of 'Transfer of Residence' provision
The CBI alleges that Fuldiya and Chandra conspired with Padekar and Kamdar to import dutiable goods under the 'transfer of residence facility.' This provision allows individuals who have resided abroad for two years or more to bring in used personal and household articles duty-free, subject to certain conditions.
Financial transactions and bribery
According to the CBI, Padekar received several credits in his bank account from JNCH clearing agents during the 2021-22 period as a bribe intended for Chandra, facilitating the clearance of consignments without objection.
A CBI official disclosed that, under Chandra's instructions, Padekar made cash withdrawals from his account on multiple occasions for various individuals. For instance, in January 2022, Padekar sent ₹3 lakh through hawala to an acquaintance of Chandra. Additionally, Kamdar sent ₹50 lakh through hawala to Chandra in Patna, where Chandra was posted as a deputy commissioner at the UB centre. In addition to cash transactions, Padekar made online transfers amounting to over ₹4 lakh as per Chandra's requests, benefiting the latter's acquaintances.
Questionable purchases and financial Support
Fuldiya made various purchases using funds from Padekar's and his brother's accounts. These purchases included a washing machine, a ceiling fan, a microwave, Apple headphones, and Nike shoes. Notably, even the delivery of milk and dairy products to Fuldiya's residence was paid for from Padekar's account.
Furthermore, Kamdar covered the cost of Fuldiya's massage chair, amounting to ₹3.40 lakh. Padekar also financed several flight and hotel bookings for Fuldiya and his family members.
As the investigation continues, the CBI aims to unravel the full extent of the alleged conspiracy and financial irregularities surrounding the Customs cartel case.