Suspects in an alleged Rs 1,000-crore hawala and excess duty drawback racket busted here by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have gone underground, apparently to hamper the probe and avoid possible arrests.
Highly placed sources in the DRI told HT the directorate's local office had searched 12-13 premises in April and May this year, and the suspects include Mukesh alias Sonu Singhania, a yarn broker and resident of Aggar Nagar, Rajesh Dhandh of Century Knitwear, his employee Ram Babu Patel, Pinki Jairath and Surinder Sharma. Vijay Maini is another name that has surfaced. The DRI had on Wednesday revealed that it had detected the racket in March following a scam by a Ludhiana-based exporter who had allegedly used inflated bills to misuse a duty drawback scheme.
The DRI seized the bill books and other data that goes back to 2007, and that had led to the hawala disclosure. It points towards black money coming to India. Following this, notices were issued to five persons.
It was in reply to this notice that Mukesh appeared before the officials of the DRI along with his advocate three days ago. He is nowhere to be found. None of the others, too, are available on phone or in their offices.
Sources in DRI said that Rajesh Dhand is the kingpin, and he along with his associates admitted that they were involved in hawala transactions and excess duty drawback.
The government's duty drawback scheme provides rebate on duty chargeable on any imported or excisable material that is used in manufacturing or processing goods for export. An exporter gets value-based incentives while availing grants through the scheme, which is aimed at promoting exports.
These exporters used to inflate their export bills to get back imported duty-free yarn as an incentive. They said the yarn was to be recycled for exports, but the DRI's investigations revealed that this duty-free imported yarn was sold at huge profits in the local market.
U-TURN AFTER ADMITTING?
After being busted for having drawn excess duty, some of the exporters had deposited Rs 10 crore as a recovery of the excess receipt. But they have now filed a writ in the Punjab and Haryana high court on the pretext of having been framed. They have accused the DRI officials of having obtained the Rs 10 crore through coercion, and have requested the court to get this money refunded to them.