The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has begun a probe into alleged customs duty evasion of hundreds of crores by a Singapore-based firm in bringing broadcasting equipment for the upcoming IPL T-20 cricket tournament.
The firm, a leading global supplier of High Definition (HD) outside broadcast equipment and crews, had allegedly violated customs norms by mis-declaring the end-use of the goods in order to avoid duty, official sources said.
The broadcasting firm has brought in several equipment, meant for coverage of Indian Premier League (IPL) matches, through Free Trade & Warehousing Zones of Arshiya International based in Panvel, Maharashtra with the help of an Indian logistics company, they said.
The equipment were allegedly brought into the country by declaring them for "demonstration" purpose to avoid import duty on them. Based on specific intelligence, a discreet enquiry was carried out which found that the equipment are going to be used in the IPL matches, the sources said.
The tournament is scheduled between April 3 and May 26.
The DRI officials are understood to have taken the versions of company officials and seized documents related to the import of the equipment. "The enquiry so far has found customs duty violations by the firm by wrongly using Special Economic Zones provisions meant for promotion of free trade agreements," a source said.
The alleged evasion by the firm will be to the tune of several hundred crores, he said.
As per government norms, there is no duty payable on import of goods meant for demo purpose. However, one has to pay customs and excise duties in addition to Value Added Tax (VAT) on commercial use of such equipment.
"The firm has been informed about the violation and asked to pay the duty. So far, about a crore has been paid by the company to the government exchequer," the source said.
He said the financial intelligence agency will keep a check on the firm in case they try to use "duty draw back scheme" while taking back these equipment.
As per duty drawback scheme, meant for promotion of trade, an exporter gets about 90 per cent refund on the import duties paid by him.
"As it is a case of mis-declaration, we will alert the agency concerned not to let the firm claim duty drawback scheme," the source said, adding that further investigation in the case was going on.