The Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) of Nhava Sheva Customs arrested the head of a non-government organisation (NGO) on charges of duty drawback fraud amounting to Rs1.5 crore. Under the duty drawback scheme, an exporter is entitled to a cash refund of a certain percentage of the amount of export.
Customs officials, on Thursday, arrested Kamlesh Shrivastava, president of a Navi Mumbai-NGO. He was produced before an Uran court which remanded him in 14 days judicial custody.
Customs officials said Shrivastava, with the help of an exporter, claimed the drawback last year on various exports of frocks, the per piece value of which was shown as Rs350 in export documents. “However, on checking a consignment recently, it was found that the per piece cost of the frocks, made of sub-standard cloth, was just Rs35 and the cost was inflated to claim extra drawback,” a Customs official posted at Nhava Sheva said requesting anonymity.
Officials said they learnt about the racket following an intelligence input. The authorities recently caught one of the consignments and discovered the overvaluation of the frocks. “We then began to investigate the magnitude of the racket,” the official said. The authorities first picked up the exporter who confessed to have indulged in the racket. Officials said he returned his part of the drawback claimed fraudulently along with interest and penalty, which amounted to Rs 65 lakh.
The exporter told authorities that the remaining part of the amount was with Shrivastava who did not return it to the department.
Officials could not initially arrest Shrivastava as he could not be traced. “He then applied for anticipatory bail in the Alibaug sessions court which was rejected,” the official said adding that Shrivastava then moved the Bombay high court. “After his anticipatory bail was rejected in the high court, we arrested him,” the official said.
The department is also investigating the role of four Customs superintendents and inspectors, who are suspected to have helped Shrivastava and the exporter in clearing the frock consignments from Nhava Sheva knowing that the cost was inflated.
The Customs authorities are also investigating Shrivastava’s role in fraudulent export of sodium iodide to claim duty drawback. The department is investigating cases where chalk was exported in place of sodium iodide and drawbacks claimed.