Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) unearthed a major scam involving evasion of Rs 25 crore of custom duty. Prolonged investigations revealed misuse of South Asian Free Trade Agreement (Safta) provisions by importers involved in import of canola oil of Canadian origin by wrongfully declaring it as rapeseed oil of Bangladeshi origin. According to sources, intelligence developed by the DRI indicated that certain firms were importing crude canola oil of Canadian origin, by wrongfully declaring it as “crude rapeseed oil/mustard oil/rice bran oil” of Bangladeshi origin through Ghojadanga Land Customs Station (LCS) at the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal.
While on import of canola oil of Canadian origin, customs duty of about 35 per cent is applicable; these importers were showing it as goods to be of Bangladeshi origin and thereby enjoying fraudulently the benefit of full exemption of customs duty available under Safta. What made the DRI suspicion was the sudden import of 15,000 metre-tonne-second (MTS) of crude rapeseed oil through Ghojadanga LCS from Bangladesh in December, 2019, and January, 2020. Investigations revealed that a prominent importer M/s Gannet Traders was run by Pradipto Majumder was involved here. Pradipto Majumder had made his drivers Suresh Halder and Pawan Shaw director in his fraudulent firm. Further investigation in this case is underway.