The apprehension of a Delhi-based businessman on Friday by customs authorities was a result of his involvement in an elaborate scheme aimed at evading customs duties over the past two years. The accused had imported 63 heavy cranes by providing false information, specifically declaring them as old and second-hand. This misrepresentation allowed him to minimise the duty payments associated with the importation of these cranes.
The arrest occurred following the presentation of the accused before the magistrate’s court in Mumbai, where he was subsequently remanded to judicial custody. The Customs officials initiated the investigation based on intelligence inputs, and their suspicions were heightened a few months ago when they intercepted one of the imported cranes for a thorough examination, reported TOI. This examination revealed that the documents detailing the crane purchases were fraudulent, triggering a more in-depth inquiry into the accused’s activities.
Further investigation during the examination exposed a sophisticated fraudulent practice employed by the accused. He had been registering most of the imported cranes with the Gujarat Regional Transport Office (RTO), falsely representing them as either new or just two years old. This misrepresentation was crucial in manipulating the system, as the Customs duty for imported cranes is determined based on their depreciation value. The system allows for a maximum reduction of 60% from the actual machine value, depending on its age.
An official involved in the case explained that the accused manipulated the system by presenting the cranes as over 10 years old to pay reduced duties to customs. Simultaneously, he exploited the system by registering the cranes with the RTO, portraying them as new or only a few years old, thereby extending their perceived period of use. This dual deception enabled the accused to significantly reduce the customs duties payable on the imported cranes.
The average cost of a crane is approximately Rs. 2 crore, and the arrested individual managed to defraud the government of Rs 2 crore in customs duties through his deceptive practices.
The case highlights the importance of vigilant customs enforcement and the need for robust mechanisms to detect and prevent fraudulent activities that can lead to revenue loss for the government. The accused will now face legal consequences for his actions as he undergoes judicial proceedings for the charges brought against him.