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ACB raids octroi checkpost operators,detects fake invoices

The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau has begun probing a printing press that was used to create fake goods invoices allegedly with the intent of octroi evasion.

The Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has begun probing a printing press that was used to create fake goods invoices allegedly with the intent of octroi evasion. The ACB has so far arrested an agent named Prasad Sawant after they raided three octroi junctions at Dahisar,Mulund and Vashi,and godowns at Cotton Green,Sewri,Kalbadevi and Byculla on May 22.

A search conducted at Sawant’s residence led to the recovery of bunches of fake invoices,along with stamps and seals used to create such bills. He later led officials to the printing press where the invoices with fake trade titles were being made. So far the duty evasion recorded on the basis of a day’s raid is Rs 15 lakh from 41 trucks,with the duty either unpaid in some cases or undervalued by at least 12 times in others,according to ACB officials. Nine agents continue to be questioned along with a probe into records and documents. The investigation will now focus on the nexus between agents,octroi department staff and transporters.

The raid was planned after a series of complaints from retired officers,bureaucrats,social activists and other sections of the society who termed the crime as ‘social menace’. The agency’s biggest task was to ensure that the news of the raid did not reach the conniving members of the nexus or the trade community. According to officials,the evasion amount of 41 trucks touching Rs 15 lakh points towards the potential scale of the crime as there are over 4,500 trucks entering the city.

“Once the trucks were detained,we involved the expertise of the vigilance staff of BMC to deduce the amount of actual octroi duty and the amount paid,” said Niket Kaushik,Additional Commissioner of Police. The surveillance found that there were three different modes to evade payment,which over a period of time had become recognised trade customs within the Octroi yards,he said.

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Octroi is deduced on the basis of the weight of the consignment,after the invoices and trade details of the consignment are matched. “Some of them avoided entering the Octroi yard where the trucks are weighed while others left some payment to agents. Some gave false information on consignment goods. For instance,electronic items were shown as scrap and the duty was paid according to scrap valuation. In some other cases,the transporter showed fake invoices at the time the goods were weighed and an undervalued amount was paid,” Kaushik said.

The agency will question the octroi department staff and transporters and also conduct inquiries in several godowns. It plans to proceed from the traders to the octroi department staff through the several touts who run the mechanism. The multiple raids were one of the most comprehensive government searches in recent times involving a chain of transactions,documentary evidence and multiple

stake-holders.

First published on: 25-05-2012 at 00:14 IST
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