Two directors of a Mumbai-based jewellery firm were arrested on Wednesday after they were found to have committed duty evasion amounting to Rs 1.3 crore, while falsely declaring a consignment of processed pearls to be unprocessed, said Customs officers. The case has prompted Customs to not only examine all imports that the firm made in the past two years, but also consider launching an industry-wide probe into the import of pearls.
Customs officers first felt something amiss after scrutinising a consignment of unprocessed pearls imported by Raunak Jewellers Private Limited last month from Kobe in Japan. “Kobe is the world’s capital in pearl processing. So it made no sense to import unprocessed pearls from there. We then had the consignment tested at a laboratory and an independent panel. After the report came on Wednesday, declaring the consignment to contain processed pearls, we placed the firm’s directors under arrest,” said a Customs officer.
The brothers, Yogin and Jogendra Zaveri, were charged under the Customs Act, and released after furnishing a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh each.
The officer said most consignments of raw pearls come from Indonesia, which are then processed in Kobe, as India has no such facility at present. While unprocessed pearls are exempt from import duty, importers are required to pay duty of 10.3 per cent, while shipping processed pearls. The present consignment, weighing roughly 20 kg, is valued at Rs 56 lakh, said the officer.
‘We have found that the firm had imported 90 consignments in the past two years. We will try to examine all their imports,” said the officer. The Zaveri brothers had last been in trouble two years ago, after being allegedly caught for their involvement in the illegal import of gold worth Rs 20 crore by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.