33 imported cars were seized in and around Chennai

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought the registration details of the 33 imported luxury cars seized from prominent personalities/ industrialists in and around Chennai a couple of days ago. Investigators are also seeking the information furnished about these cars to Customs officials at the time of their entry in seaports during 2007-2011, agency sources said on Saturday.

“We have written to the concerned Regional Transport Offices seeking details of registration. Since special devices that can erase chassis/engine numbers and fake rubber stamps were seized during the searches, we strongly suspect manipulation of records,” a senior investigator said.

RTO records would reveal the details of ownership and value of the vehicle based on which tax was paid. “It was only after establishing a prima facie case did we register an FIR. The offence was initially detected by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials…but there was delay in taking action,” he said.

The cars were imported by Alex C Joseph, a high-profile car smuggler who is the prime suspect in this case. He was arrested on two occasions in the Hyderabad and Kochi airports, the official said.

“Alex is absconding…based on specific input that he is in New Delhi, special teams have gone there. Some DRI officials will be examined to know why no action was taken. The seized cars were entrusted with the users for safe custody under the provisions of Section 102 (3) of Cr.PC,” he said.

An undertaking was taken from the users/owners that they would produce the vehicles in courts or before the investigation agency when required. “Even if they sell the car to someone, the criminal liability will remain. The actual quantum of revenue loss to the exchequer in the form of Customs Duty and Road Tax is being worked out.”

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