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N Korea,Vietnam embassies’ officials on DRI radar

Walia used to bring these cars — stolen or second-hand — from abroad as brand new ones and sell them off to high-income individuals in Delhi and neighbouring cities like Gurgaon,Faridabad,Ghaziabad and Chandigarh

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi |
May 16, 2011 12:29:40 am

Following the arrest of 32-year-old Sumit Walia alias Sunny,the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is on the trail of a clutch of officials of foreign embassies in New Delhi who allegedly helped Walia and his well-oiled network procure imported cars in their names.

Walia used to bring these cars — stolen or second-hand — from abroad as brand new ones and sell them off to high-income individuals in Delhi and neighbouring cities like Gurgaon,Faridabad,Ghaziabad and Chandigarh.

Walia,according to the DRI sources,was arrested from Vikaspuri on Saturday night and produced on Sunday before a magistrate who remanded him in one-day judicial remand. The racket was busted on April 26.

Nearly 41 top-of-the-line cars and some sports bikes have been seized so far,said the DRI sleuths.

The DRI probe has revealed that Walia,who had his contacts allegedly in North Korea and Vietnam embassies in New Delhi,involved the senior officials like attaché and consulates of the two embassies. “He contacted such officials who were entitled to procure imported vehicles as they do not have to pay import duty (on such procurements),” said a DRI official.

The DRI officials are now learnt to have written to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to probe the role of the officials of the embassies of North Korea and Vietnam.

With the help of his contacts in the United Kingdom,Walia purchased stolen vehicles and forged their registration documents to bill them as new buys.

“The vehicles were then shipped to India in the names of officials of embassies. Once here,the vehicles were sold off to businessmen,celebrities and politicians. The seized vehicles include BMW,Range Rover,Ferrari,Lexus,Porsche,Mercedes and Aston Martin,” said the DRI official further.

“The syndicate had clientele as far as in South Africa. The import duty on second-hand cars in India is 160 per cent while it is 109 per cent on new cars,” he added.

The DRI sleuths told court that the initial questioning of Walia has thrown up names of UK-based people of Indian origin and they are now seeking the help of other agencies to track them.

The agency has pegged the duty evasion by Walia and his associates at Rs 500 crore in the past few years on the imports of luxury cars and bikes.

Additional Director General (Delhi Zone) R K Sharma said: “The investigation into the case is on. A search of Walia’s locker at his Vasant Vihar house before the arrest had led to seizure of imported watches,mobile phones and gold bars worth Rs 2.75 crore.”

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