Chennai

Customs officials, agent booked for cheating Chennai Port Trust

File photo of the CBI office complex in New Delhi.

File photo of the CBI office complex in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against two Customs officials and a Customs House Agent for a private hospital in Chennai for causing wrongful loss to the tune of ₹21.85 lakh to the Chennai Port Trust in the import of medical equipment.

The offence was committed unbeknownst to the hospital, the CBI said in its FIR.

After conducting a preliminary inquiry, the agency’s Anti-Corruption Branch registered a case under Sections 120(B) (Criminal conspiracy), 420 (Cheating), 468 (Forgery) and 471 (Using forged document as genuine), besides invoking the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, against Ranjit Kumar Kundu, Assistant Commissioner, Customs, Chennai; Rohitash Serawat, Customs Appraiser, Chennai; and M/s NSK Clearing & Forwarding, CHA.

The allegation is that the accused colluded with each other and created false documents for claiming a refund that was not due to them. The case pertains to the import of medical equipment worth ₹191.08 crore from Belgium on February 27, 2017. The FIR said the materials were imported in 28 wooden cases and 22 containers through Chennai Port. The Customs clearance was handled by NSK Clearing & Forwarding (Customs House Agent) on behalf of the importer, i.e., the hospital.

The Chennai Port authorities levied ₹59.23 lakh in wharfage charges as per Section 3 of Scale of Rates, 2016, by treating the import as single machinery and equipment purchased through a single invoice, though transported in separate packages in a single consignment.

However, two officials of the CHA allegedly colluded with Customs officials and filed for a refund of wharfage charges from Chennai Port. They submitted fake documents to make the claim that the bulk break and containerised goods were billed separately. The Customs officials created a new file to process the refund, in violation of the norms and procedures of the department.

In furtherance of the conspiracy and on the basis of forged documents, the two officials of the CHA cheated the Chennai Port Trust and got a refund of wharfage charges to the tune of ₹21,85,082 from the Chennai Port Trust without the knowledge of the hospital, the FIR said.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2020 10:30:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/customs-officials-agent-booked-for-cheating-chennai-port-trust/article32263482.ece

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