Frequent fliers from West Asia under scanner

  • Timsy Jaipuria, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 28, 2014 23:35 IST

Next time you are travelling business-class, especially to any of the locations in the West Asia or coming back to India from there, even a cautious approach cannot save you from a close watch from the revenue department.

According to sources at the department of revenue intelligence (DRI), the hunt for black money and smuggled gold has prompted them to increase surveillance on frequent flyers to and from this region.

“There have been concerns about smuggling of gold and black money transfers from West Asia, field formations are in the process of being drafted. We have asked for a close watch on these frequent flyers,” said a senior DRI official on the condition of anonymity.

He further said that to facilitate aggregation of details of flyers, customs officials across airports have been engaged. “We have asked the customs department to facilitate with thw details, even the foreigner regional registration offices have been roped in,” the senior official added.

It has also been observed that there are people, who have been flying to this region not just from metros but also from other places in India, the official said. The details will soon be submitted to the revenue department.

Traditionally, West Asia, especially Dubai, has been one of the most popular investment destinations for Indians due to its favourable tax rules.

In another observation by the DRI, the official said that a lot of black money is moving in and out through foreign exchange (forex) issued by banks to exporters and importers. “We have also informed the senior officials of revenue department that exporters and importers are drawing forex from banks but these imports are actually not received in the country... Traders are also drawing duty benefits against such imports and exports, which again are not physically happening. Of late, this pattern has become very common in commodity trades through forged documents,” he added.

The DRI is looking to take a substantive action in this regard soon, the official said.

The search for black money has also made the government rethink its tax system. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had recently said that India is moving towards a tax friendly regime to correct its image, which has become ‘bad’ over the years, to improve the investment environment.

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