The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (IT) department will probe the over Rs 1,000-crore scam in export of high-quality Basmati rice to Iran which was fraudulently diverted mid-sea to Dubai.
Both the agencies have been asked by a Supreme Court- appointed Special Investigation Team to track the money which has been laundered through the export besides zeroing in on its beneficiaries, official sources said today.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which has unearthed the scam, has shared relevant details of the case with the SIT, which is now monitoring the probe, they said.
The SIT, headed by former Supreme Court judge M B Shah, is responsible for investigating cases of black money stashed within and outside the country.
Over two lakh metric tonnes of Basmati rice was illegally offloaded in Dubai, during 2014-2015, instead of Bandar Abbas in Iran, the sources said.
At least 25 big exporters from Haryana and Punjab are under the scanner of probe agencies for their involvement in the multi-crore scam. Both ED and IT have been asked to look into the case, they said.
Explaining the modus operandi, the sources claimed the rice would be taken to Gujarat’s Kandla Port by these exporters. They would then file shipping bills–documents filed with customs authorities carrying details of goods to be exported, consignor and consignee–for export to Iran.
Instead of the consignment reaching Iranian shores, it would be diverted mid-sea to Dubai allegedly with connivance of cargo ship operators carrying the goods.
Surprisingly, payments were also made from Iran to these exporters in India. Importers and port officials would allegedly acknowledge the receipt of rice and allow payment to be made against it here, they said.
Agencies are clueless about the end-use of rice off-loaded in Dubai and suspect misuse of the proceeds through the commodity to fund some illegal activity like terror financing, the sources said.
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha had recently informed the Parliament about the scam.
“Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has detected cases of diversion of Basmati rice export wherein consignments of rice meant for Iran were diverted to Dubai.
“The payments for the said goods were received in Indian Rupees instead of freely convertible foreign currency, by misusing the facilities granted to the goods actually exported to Iran,” Sinha had said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.