Ghost firm claims Rs 5 cr in incentive for exports it never made to Bangladesh

The customs department has unearthed a racket where a fake export company claimed to be sending consignments to Bangladesh and earned crores in incentive from the central government.

The operation was based at the Indo-Bangladesh border check-post at Petrapole in North 24-Parganas - about 120 km from Kolkata, sources in the preventive unit of customs department, based in Kolkata, said..

The company, which exists only on paper, claimed to be exporting copper rods and wire to Bangladesh, also only on paper, and availed benefits worth Rs 5 crore ffrom central government. Customs officials said investigations will reveal if more funds were siphoned off.

Preliminary investigations have revealed prima facie involvement of four customs department men. It has been found that papers concerning export to Bangladesh were passed without any physical verification. No export actually took place.

The customs department has already conducted raids in four cities, including Delhi. The kingpin of the racket, also the owner of the fake company, is yet to be arrested. However, the one of the handlers of the racket, identified as Arnav Bhattacharya, a clearing agent at the Petrapole border, is in the custody of the customs department. Bhattacharya used to facilitate the clearance of the fake consignments.

"The company exists only on paper and claims to be exporting copper wires and copper rods to Bangladesh. The company used to get incentive in for of duty exemption on exports from Government of India. The exemption goes up to 8 per cent of the total cost and the money is directly credited into the company's account," a senior customs official said, exports were made only on paper.

The customs officials chanced upon the racket while investigating the misuse of Advance License Scheme (ALS) by some exporters in connivance with some Customs House agents. Under ALS, incentive is provided for promoting export under Duty Exemption Scheme. "During investigation it was found that certain manufacturer exporters were resorting to 'ghost export' of consignments under the scheme for fulfilment of their export obligations. A Uttar Pradesh-based company used to provide a registration number of truck carrying goods for export.

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