Armed with intelligence on gold smuggling from foreign countries, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has conducted a massive search operation in the premises of leading jewellers across the country for suspected duty evasion worth crores.
Official sources said the ongoing search operations were started last week and various places in the national capital, surrounding areas of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were visited by teams of DRI officials.
The move came after the financial intelligence sleuths found instances of alleged duty evasion in import of gold, wrong calculation of duty and smuggling by wrongly declaring the type of imported goods, the sources said.
Following this the DRI has put jewellers across the country under its lens and alerted customs officers to double check consignments originating from Middle East and South East Asian countries to check smuggling of gold.
Official sources said the customs authorities have received about Rs 10 crore from various bullion traders as payment for alleged duty evasion following the raids.
A Delhi-based leading jeweller has reportedly paid about Rs eight crore alone to customs authorities in connection with the probe.
Sources said Customs Overseas Intelligence Network officers posted outside the country have been told to strengthen intelligence on consignments originating there for India.
The DRI field units are also keeping a strict vigil at the Indo-Nepal border suspecting smuggling of the precious metal. "Strict check is being maintained at the Indian border with Nepal.
The border is open and many people cross over from both the sides. There have been instances of alleged smuggling of gold from there," a source said.
Officials said that the gold has always been in demand in the country due to its increasing monetary value and traditional importance. Sources said gold smuggling and its illegal trade also gave rise to hawala transactions and flow of black money.
Customs, DRI and CISF had in past months seized gold worth crores from many places, including Bangalore and Mumbai. Earlier this year, about 250 kg of gold plates imported from Dubai worth Rs 68 crore were seized by DRI officials from the premises of a trading firm here and in neighbouring Noida.
At present, 10 gm of gold ranges between Rs 31,000-32,000. A Finance Ministry report, citing high intrinsic value of gold, has said the yellow metal is preferred as an asset class for hiding 'black' income even in times of high inflation or uncertainties plaguing the economy, and despite chargeability of