The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Income Tax Department has seized allegedly unaccounted gold and diamond worth Rs 2 crore from the domestic airport in Mumbai on November 15. Sources said the seized precious metal and stone belong to diamond firm Neo Diamonds that operates out of Zaveri Bazaar in suburban Mumbai. According to sources, the seized gold and diamond were being carried in handbags to Hyderabad.
“The AIU has seized 2.42 kg of gold and 400-carat diamond of Neo Diamonds. The tax agency has found that the consignment was being taken to Hyderabad for sale to local jewellers. The entire gold and diamonds are unaccounted,” said a tax official. “Further investigation is underway,” he added.
Phone calls to Navin Soni, proprietor of Neo Diamonds, did not elicit any response. The tax department is currently probing three persons in connection with the transport of gold and diamonds to Hyderabad. It has also recorded the statements of the carriers and the proprietor of Neo Diamonds.
“We have increased our surveillance on travellers carrying undeclared precious metals and stones domestically through air,” said another tax official. Since the beginning of this year, the IT department has searched and probed a number of jewellers and bullion dealers.
In August, the government has also brought the gems and jewellery industry under the umbrella of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). According to a World Gold Council Global report, demand for gold in India for the three months ending September was at 145.9 tonnes, down 24 per cent from the year-ago quarter’s 192.8 tonnes.