Smugglers evading customs duty while importing hazardous nuts: CBI carries out searches

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New Delhi, Jun 30 (PTI) The CBI has carried out searches at 19 locations in connection with its probe into alleged customs duty evasion in the import of hazardous betel nuts, areca nuts and rotten nuts, officials said on Wednesday.

The searches were conducted in Nagpur, Mumbai and Ahmedabad at the premises of suspect Farooq Noorani and others, including the proprietors and partners of importing firms and customs house agents, they said.

Incriminating documents, digital devices and other articles were recovered during the searches, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokesperson said.

He said the agency registered a case on March 5 against unidentified officials of the customs and central excise and private persons in pursuance to a February 25 order the Bombay High Court's Nagpur bench.

A PIL filed in the court alleged a scam involving an amount of Rs 15,000 crore but so far, the probe has unearthed a fraud of a few crores of rupees, sources said.

It was alleged that smugglers were evading customs duty by illegally importing hazardous nuts by showing those as imported from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, which enjoy a lower duty, whereas the actual imports were from outside the SAARC region, they said.

The scam was allegedly perpetrated in connivance with customs officials on the basis of fake certificates of origin, bogus and undervalued bills or invoices and forged clearance certificates and thus, causing evasion of customs duty. PTI ABS RC

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