A flamboyant cricketer from Chandigarh, a liquor baron and his son with business interests in UP and Punjab, a textile tycoon, some corporate houses besides the daughter of a powerful Maratha leader have come under the scanner in the luxury car import scam unearthed by the department of revenue intelligence (DRI).
The DRI is planning to call them soon to seek their clarification in the matter.
According to DRI sources, apart from these some 30 other celebrities, socialites, politicians and cricketers took help from Sumit Walia — the alleged kingpin of the scam — to purchase luxury cars such as Hummer, Bentley, Aston Martin, Audi, Porsche and BMW.
The DRI has arrested Walia and his associate Rajiv Sood in the matter. But Walia was released on bail after a few days in judicial custody.
“The son of a liquor baron was called for clarification but he hasn’t appeared so far before the investigators. We suspect the father-son duo may have bought around five cars from the gang. On the other hand, some individuals and corporate houses have hinted to us that they are willing to pay the penalty as they unknowingly became part of the scam,” an official said on the condition of anonymity.
Investigators have found that in some cases cash up to R1 crore was deposited in banks to purchase these cars. They are now looking at involvement of bank officials as these high cash transactions were never reported to the financial intelligence unit, as required under the norms.
Investigators also dug out some earlier links of Walia. About six years back the DRI had busted another car import scam and arrested the main accused Sanjay Bhandari. Investigators suspect that Walia once worked with Bhandari.
The DRI has sought clarification from Bhandari. The DRI had alleged that Bhandari was importing cars under the Export Promotion Credit Guarantee Scheme without paying 100 % custom duty and selling them off to his clients.
According to DRI, Walia imported cars in the name of various front men, by paying them R1 lakh. The DRI said most cars came from a UK-based dealer named Ashwin Kalra.
The cars imported by Walia were first registered in the UK and sold to Kalra’s firms, which then exported them to Walia’s front men in India as new cars.
Second-hand cars attract a custom duty of 109% and new cars can be imported by paying a duty of 160%.