The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) unearthed a big corruption racket involving Customs officials, when it raided a customs house agent (CHA) and recovered Rs 1.75 crore in cash.
The cash, a large part of which is suspected to be bribe money collected on behalf of four Customs officials, has been seized.
The DRI seized the cash from the Juhu residence of CHA Ashok Gulati in a raid last week.
A CHA is a private entity who provides services to importers and exporters for documentation and helps fulfilling other official requirements.
Since the matter was suspected to be a case of corruption, the DRI did not arrest Gulati and instead handed over the case to the Directorate General of Vigilance, Customs and Central Excise.
The cash was also handed over to the Customs department, as it was believed to be bribe collected to allow duty evasion in various imports.
The Vigilance officials, on Monday, held a high-level meeting at Customs House in Ballard Pier to discuss the issue. Investigation is being conducted against the four Customs officials.
Senior DRI officials also attended the meeting.
A senior DRI official said that during questioning, Gulati told them that Rs 40 lakh belonged to him while the rest of the cash belonged to four Customs officials including a deputy commissioner and three appraisers.
The DRI, which is continuing its investigation, believes that the huge amount of cash could be collection of the Customs officials for allowing duty evasion for a number of imports.
“Such a huge amount cannot be proceeds of favour in one import,” the DRI official said adding that the agency is investigating the number of import duty evasion for which this much cash was collected.
“Once we come to know, we would summon all the importers involved to question them and recover duty with fine and penalty,” the official said, requesting anonymity for lack of authorisation to talk to the media.
The DRI also plans to inform the income tax (I-T) department about the cash seizure.
“As the cash could be unaccounted, it also becomes a case of I-T,” the official said.
Gulati could not be contacted for comment.