New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has lodged an FIR against Dinesh Fuldiya, the then Deputy Commissioner of Customs at UB Centre in Maharashtra’s Raigad district and two of his aides, for allegedly clearing goods imported from Gulf countries without paying customs duty by engaging in unfair practices, an official said.
Fuldiya, who is currently posted at DGARM, Mumbai, allegedly bought a washing machine, ceiling fan, microwave, Apple headphones, shoes, dairy milk products from Provilc, and a massage chair using the bribe amount.
A senior CBI official said that they received a complaint regarding certain Customs clearing agents being involved in clearing goods without paying proper customs duty by using the passports of individuals who spent two years abroad to receive items from Gulf countries and evade customs duty.
It was revealed that the imported goods were significantly undervalued. The clearing agents in India, in collusion with their accomplices in Gulf countries and Customs officials, imported electronic items disguised as household items along with other unidentified goods.
The official mentioned that between December 2020 and August 2021, Fuldiya conspired with Sudhir Padekar, Ashish Kamdar, and others to defraud the department.
“In this conspiracy, dutiable goods were imported under the ‘Transfer of Residence’ provision by private individuals, and the same goods were cleared without any charges. The clearing agents obtained passports from various individuals who had lived abroad for more than two years and used these passports to clear shipments of household items for other ineligible persons,” said the official.
The official said that the reason behind using other people’s passports was that, according to Customs provisions, individuals, who have lived abroad for more than two years, can import used household goods from abroad and claim exemption up to Rs 5 lakh under the Transfer of Residence Provision.
“The passport holder knew that the clearing agent would use the passport to clear shipments of household items, and they were paid Rs 15,000 per consignment for this service.”
The clearing agents have accomplices in Gulf countries who receive orders from individuals settled there.
When individuals in Gulf countries want to send goods to India, they approach the clearing agents’ accomplices. These accomplices then pass on the information to the clearing agents in India, who obtain passports from individuals who have stayed in the country from where the goods are to be dispatched. Using these obtained passports, the clearing agents file the Baggage Declaration Form (BDF) claiming exemption under the ‘Transfer of Residence’ clause, which exempts duty payment on goods valued below Rs 5 lakh.
Fuldiya handled the clearance of such shipments. In return, private individuals paid bribes to Padekar, who worked for Fuldiya. Padekar and Kamdar made various expenses for Fuldiya using the collected bribes.