Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CBI busts graft racket ,Raids In Several Cities, Including A’bad, Delhi And Mumbai; Seven Customs Officials Booked

Ahmedabad: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Gandhinagar, busted a huge bribe network involving customs and excise officials. It carried out search operations on 30 premises, including 26 in Gujarat and four in Mumbai and Delhi, booking seven officials on Tuesday.

What is being called one of the biggest anti-corruption operations in recent times was triggered by CBI’s investigations into an unholy bribe nexus between Gujarat customs officials and Mumbai-based custom house agent (CHA) Khimji Poonja Freight Forwarder Pvt Ltd.

More than 100 CBI officials conducted searches in customs department offices and residences of officials at Ahmedabad, Mundra port, Surat, Nadiad, Gandhidham, Vadodara and Junagadh. CBI has registered three separate complaints against seven customs officials and three employees of the custom house agent, including three officials from Ahmedabad, three from Surat and one from Mundra.

Those booked for corruption are — superintendents Om Prakash Pande, Chandu Kalal, Akhil Barot, Suresh KC and V K Pargi and inspectors Devendra Sagwan, N B Choudhary. Mehul Jhaveri, Tushar Waghela and Girish Malpani working for Khimji Poonja in Gujarat too have been accused in the case. CBI had carried out searches at the houses of four other custom officials but evidence to suggest their involvement were not found during the operation which went on till late on Tuesday evening.

Custom sources said, “The accused officials were clearing precious metal consignments as scrap material after taking handsome bribes from the CHA”.

CBI had also got a tip off that employees of the Mumbai-based company had got undervaluedclearance for voluminous goods like poly-films, electronics appliances and non-edible oils between July, 2010 and October, 2010. This was in connivance with the accused customs officials. CBI has found that Jhaveri and two others paid regular bribes to customs officials for getting their consignments cleared at Ahmedabad air cargo, Mundra port and Surat.

“We have unearthed a deeprooted corruption network connecting custom house agents, traders and custom officials. The agents pay regular bribes to many officials for each clearance. Rates for each undervaluation were already negotiated,” said a senior CBI official.

. 10L cash burned using whisky

Customs inspector at Surat Devendra Sagwan panicked when CBI sleuths knocked at his door at 7 am on Tuesday. Instead of answering the door, he fished out Rs 10 lakh cash and set it afire after pouring whisky on it. CBI officials who were kept waiting outside, got suspicious and broke open the door. The sleuths managed to recover another sum of unaccounted money worth Rs 5 lakh. TNN

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