The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on March 22 arrested the sales director of a US-based firm that supplies transformer equipment to top power firms in India for alleged import duty evasion between 2012 and 2016, sources familiar with the development told The Indian Express. Sources said a few power firms have also come under the scanner of the agency in connection with the alleged duty evasion.
The DRI arrested Shailesh K Maisuria, 42, a British National, after conducting searches at the Ahmedabad-based marketing arm of the US firm on February 27. The US firm supplies dissolve gas analysers to leading power firms in India. A dissolve gas analyser, typically attached to industrial power transformers gives a reading of the dissolved gases in the oil inside the transformer. Based on this reading oil is changed in the transformer. Under the customs norms a dissolve gas analyser attracts import duty of 10 per cent.
The DRI has however, found that Maisuria had allegedly been written to the shipping department of the US firm and assisted them in manipulating the shipping documents to mis-declare the goods to escape customs duty. Maisuria, according to sources, had allegedly assisted the US firm to declare the dissolve gas analyser as gas cromotograph which does not attract customs duty under the rules as it is a laboratory equipment. The DRI has seized incriminating emails and other communications that allegedly show how Maisuria manipulated the documents to evade duty, said sources.
“While the website of the US firm clearly states that they are in the business of supplying dissolve gas analysers, the marketing arm of the firm in India mis-declared the goods to evade to the customs,” said sources. According to a source, Maisuria had engaged a top law firm and together with the firm he had advised at least five power firms in India to not pay duty on the imported equipment. The intelligence agency has pegged the total duty evasion at Rs 12 crore. It has already recovered over Rs 4.5 crore from the US firm.
“This is not the first time this law firm has advised companies to not pay duty liable to the government. The agency is examining the role of the law firm and other power firms,” said a source. Earlier, the DRI found that the same law firm had advised a multi-national firm which led to an alleged duty evasion of over Rs 300 crore.