In fresh trouble for former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has issued a show cause notice to him and two others for alleged evasion of customs duty of Rs. 18.32 crore in import of an aircraft.
The DRI sources said on Tuesday the aircraft was imported allegedly through “dummy” companies floated by Modi to evade customs duty by showing it as one meant for the purpose of providing Non-Scheduled (Passenger) Services when, in reality, it was for personal use of the former IPL boss.
The Rs. 100 crore aircraft “Bombardier Challenger 300 (VT-RAK)” was imported in the name of M/s. Golden Wings Pvt. Ltd. (GWPL) from Peel Aviation, Ireland, on lease for an amount of Rs. 10.85 crore for a period of seven years beginning 2008. “Investigations revealed that Peel Aviation was a corporate veil to mask the actual owner of the aircraft, Modi,” the notice said.
In its investigations, the DRI has relied upon email communications between Modi and his former employee Deepa Palekar and statements given by GWPL directors.
At the time of import, in terms of condition of the exemption notification, GWPL had given an undertaking to use the aircraft only for the purpose of providing Non-Scheduled (Passenger) Services.
On the basis of this undertaking, they had availed the benefit of the exemption and the aircraft was assessed for ‘Nil’ rate of duty, the notice said.
It was found that the said aircraft was not being used for the declared purpose and they had violated the condition of the exemption, it said.
Customs duty exemptions are given when an aircraft is imported for non-scheduled passenger services or non-scheduled charter services.
The Passenger Manifests - details of the passengers travelling in the plane - and abstract of Tech Log Book (log of the movements) of the aircraft which were maintained as per the requirements of Directorate General of Civil Aviation were examined by DRI.
The investigation revealed that the aircraft was used for Modi’s personal movement, his family and friends, but also the aircraft’s operation was controlled by him.
It was also found that there was not even a single NSOP passenger service, the notice further said.