INDIA. Mumbai: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested two former deputy commissioners of Customs in separate cases involving collusion with Customs House Agents (CHAs) to accept bribes from a middleman. The arrests were made on Tuesday, and the charges relate to the illegal import of goods at the Jawaharlal Nehru Customs House (JNCH) in Navi Mumbai.
According to the Customs Act of 1962, individuals who have lived abroad for more than two years are eligible to import used household goods by claiming an exemption of customs duty up to Rs 5 lakh.
The accused, namely Dinesh Fuldiya and Subhash Chandra, were stationed at UB Centre. The CBI alleges that they assisted CHAs in exploiting the “transfer of residence” clause, with the assistance of middleman Sudhir Padekar.
The CBI statement claims that the public servants involved in the case conspired with others during their tenure at UB Centre and JNCH. They allegedly misused the “Transfer of Residence” provision and utilized passports of individuals who had resided abroad for more than two years, particularly in Gulf countries.
“The syndicate allegedly imported various items, including household goods, electronics, and undisclosed items, by undervaluing the goods and concealing them within declared items. This was done to clear consignments,” as per the CBI statement.
Furthermore, the public servants are alleged to have collected illegal gratification through a private individual from various CHAs. The illicit payments were then channelled to different accounts and individuals associated with the officers, using both legitimate banking channels and hawala routes.
The accused allegedly employed this modus operandi to grant clearance to the consignments brought by the CHAs, with the bribes being paid to the public servants through the private individual.
Searches were carried out at seven locations, including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Patna, Samastipur (Bihar), and Khargon District (Madhya Pradesh). “These searches were conducted at the residences of the accused and their accomplices. Various incriminating documents and articles were recovered during these operations,” as mentioned in the CBI statement.