An assistant commissioner of Customs was suspended on Friday for his alleged involvement in a red sanders smuggling case. The officer, Mohammed Altaf, posted at the Marine and Preventive (M&P) wing of the Customs department, was questioned by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which sent a report to the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) recommending his suspension.
The DRI had, last month, got information about a red sanders consignment being smuggled to Malaysia from the Nhava Sheva port. The consignment, which had already sailed and was mid-sea, was recalled. It reached the port on April 5. The DRI officials opened it to find 12.3 metric tonnes of red sanders worth Rs. 1.25 crore.
DRI sources said the consignment was declared as carpets. At the container freight station (CFS), carpets were stuffed in the container and a Customs seal put on it. “However, on its way from the CFS to port, the seal was broken by syndicate members and carpets were replaced by red sanders,” a DRI official said, adding that a duplicate seal was put.
After the container returned to the Nhava Sheva port, the DRI questioned a suspect who also named the owner of the container. He also alleged that an official of the Customs department’s M&P wing is linked with the group.
The suspect did not know the name of the Customs officer and gave a description to the police. After he was identified, Altaf was questioned by the DRI, following which a report was sent to the CBEC, recommending his suspension. Altaf was suspended pending investigation into the case, the DRI official said. Altaf could not be reached for comment.