Pricey silver leads to smuggling | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Pricey silver leads to smuggling

The sharp rise in the price of silver in the past few months has led to the smuggling of the precious metal. Customs officials, early Tuesday, arrested an employee of a Dubai-based jeweller who was trying to smuggle 35 kg silver worth more than Rs 19 lakh into Mumbai.

mumbai Updated: Mar 30, 2011 01:56 IST
Manish Pachouly

The sharp rise in the price of silver in the past few months has led to the smuggling of the precious metal. Customs officials, early Tuesday, arrested an employee of a Dubai-based jeweller who was trying to smuggle 35 kg silver worth more than Rs 19 lakh into Mumbai.

During questioning, customs officials found that his employer who has two jewellery showrooms in Dubai and one at Zaveri Bazar had sent him with the silver. Officials said Bhavesh Khimani, 40, arrived by an Air India flight from Dubai around 4am and started walking through the green channel when customs officers led by deputy commissioner Sameer Wankhede stopped him.

On checking his trolley bag, the officers found silver ornaments and utensils. In his statement to customs, Khimani said he was working with Dubai-based jeweller Ashok Khotumal for 11 years and had been asked to take the silver to Khotumal's Zaveri Bazar showroom. Khimani said for the job, he got free to and fro air tickets to meet his family in India and chocolates for his children.

Rules state that a passenger coming after a minimum stay of six months abroad is allowed to bring up to 100 kg of silver. But, the passenger has to declare this at the red channel and pay duty at the rate of Rs 1,500 per kg. There is also education cess of 3% on every Rs 1,500 duty. At this rate, the duty on Khimani's silver would be more than Rs 54,000.

"There is also 2 per cent octroi added if you bring it officially as well as sales tax if the same is accounted for," a senior customs official said requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media. He said by smuggling silver, the price of which is at an all-time high, the smuggler not only saves on customs duty, but also on octroi, sales tax and income tax.

Khimani was handed over to the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of customs. Customs authorities are investigating Khotumal's role and also probing if a similar attempt was made using other employees. Additional commissioner of customs, AIU, Mahendra Pal, confirmed the development.