Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered six separate cases against Customs officials and private persons for allegedly running a cartel comprising Customs officials and clearing agents who were allegedly clearing of goods despite Customs duty not having been paid.
Those booked by the CBI in the six cases are Customs Superintendents Brijesh Kumar, Dinesh Kumar, Hemant Gethe, Keshav Pandhi, Vinod Kumar, and Alok Kumar, as well as Ashish Kamdar and Deepak Parekh.
Cartel used passports of people who have lived abroad
Several facts regarding a cartel comprising Customs officers and Customs clearing agents came to light during an investigation into a Customs duty bribery case, according to the CBI. The cartel was allegedly using the passports of people who have lived abroad for more than two years
Records of cash and banking transactions between Deepak Parekh, who works as a clearing agent at Unaccompanied Baggage Centre (UB Centre), JNCH, Nhava Sheva, and several people, including some Customs officials, during searches at his residence.
“Scrutiny of the documents/articles seized reveals that from 2020 till 2022, the accused Customs officials, while posted at UB Centre, Nhava Sheva, entered into a criminal conspiracy with Dahisar residents Ashish Kamdar and Deepak Parekh and unknown Customs officials and private persons to cause a wrongful loss to the government exchequer. Dutiable goods were imported under the Transfer of Residence provision by the private persons and were given “Out of Charge” by the suspected Customs officials,” the CBI claimed in its FIRs.
“When Deepak Parekh was examined, he revealed that his nephew Ashish Kamdar also works with him and they together deal in clearing household items under Transfer of Residence (TR). The clearing agents procure passports from various persons who have lived abroad for more than two years and use them for clearing consignments of household items of others as, if a person has lived abroad for more than two years, he/she can import used household goods by claiming exemption up to Rs 5 lakh.” the FIR said.
Accomplices in Gulf countries
The clearing agents have accomplices in Gulf countries. Persons settled in Gulf countries who want to send some goods to India approach these accomplices, who with the help of the clearing agents in India get these cleared by claiming exemption under the Transfer of Residence clause,” the FIR said.
“Goods so imported are undervalued to a large extent. Besides, clearing agents in India, in connivance with their accomplices in Gulf countries and Customsofficials in India, import electronic items along with other goods in the guise of household items,” said a CBI source.
Scrutiny of mobile data and bank statements of the clearing agents showed that the accused Customs officials were involved in fraud of around Rs 2.24 crore through the Hawala network.
The accused Customs officials had allegedly handled clearance of consignments imported by Deepak Parekh and Ashish Kamdar, while they were posted at UB Centre.
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