THE DIRECTORATE of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Thursday busted a Rs 2,000-crore money laundering racket allegedly run by two Surat-based firms, a clutch of diamond values and a customs house agent (CHA) at the Bharat Diamond Bourse in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai.
Sources at the DRI said Surat-based Antique Exim Pvt Ltd and Tanman Jewels Pvt Ltd along with three diamond valuers — Paresh Shah, Naresh Mehta, Pradeep Zaveri — and CHA Vikki Kakkad have laundered Rs 2,000 crore in the last two years by “over-invoicing imports of low quality” rough diamonds at Bharat Diamond Bourse.
According to official sources, DRI has intercepted 14 consignments of rough diamonds of low quality by these firms at a declared value of Rs 156 crore. However, the probe agency has found that the fair value of these imports is only Rs 1.2 crore.
Detailing the modus operandi of the firms, sources said rough diamonds of cheap quality are being imported from Hong Kong and Dubai in “connivance” with exporters in those countries. These diamonds are typically procured at grossly overvalued prices and once the consignment arrives at Bharat Diamond Bourse, the valuers approve the declared value as the fair value, they said, adding that on the basis of these valuations, payment for these imports are routed to Hong Kong and Dubai.
So far, the DRI has arrested the three valuers and the CHA in the case. The agency has also seized Rs 10 lakh in cash and Rs 2.2 crore in demand drafts in multiple raids. The DRI has also found an “abnormally huge cache of cheque books, Aadhaar Cards and PAN Cards at one of the premises” of a person allegedly connected with the racket.
Sources said over-invoicing of imports is one of the common ways adopted for trade based money laundering. In simpler terms, trade based money laundering is the process of transferring or moving money through trade transactions. In practice, this can be achieved through the misrepresentation of the price, quantity or quality of imports or exports.
According to official records, the directors of Antique Exim Pvt Ltd are Pankaj Kumar Babel and Shantilal Dhanraj Paldecha. The company’s authorised capital is Rs 10 lakh and its paid capital is Rs 5 lakh. Tanman Jewels Pvt Ltd has an authorised capital and paid up capital of Rs 10 lakh each. The directors of the firm are Shubham Jain and Rakesh Kumar Jain.