New Delhi: Trade transactions by a host of export and import firms have come under the scanner of central economic intelligence agencies for alleged money laundering and tax evasion.
Sources said Central Economic Intelligence Bureau and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence officials have found details of suspicious trade transactions by some of the firms, based in major industrial hubs of the country including Mumbai, Delhi, Surat and Ludhiana, which were manipulating import and export invoices thereby generating black money.
According to preliminary probe based on assessment of past two year trade transactions, a number of 'fly by night' exporters and importers (who only export or import goods once and then vanish) have been found in routing of black money and the officials are trying to ascertain their whereabouts, they said.
"We have come to know over 100 such suspected trade dealings in Middle East, the US and the UK among others. Most of these transactions seem to be dubious and the address of the recipients and booking agents here have been found to be incorrect," a source said.
He said the details of these exports will also be shared with the concerned authorities in those countries.
In addition, economic intelligence agency officials have found certain dubious consignments sent to India, most of which are lying unattended at various air and sea cargo stations, and examining them to know their background.
Last month, the DRI had claimed to have busted over Rs 1,000 crore hawala racket in Punjab involving certain international syndicates and Delhi-based businessmen.
The officials claimed they have exposed the racket while probing a scam by an exporter who fraudulently used inflated bills to misuse a duty drawback scheme run by the Finance Ministry and gained incentives worth Rs 60 crore.
"There has been spurt in activity related to Trade Based Money Laundering (TBML). All field officials have been told to cross check export and import consignments in case of any suspicion," the official said.
TBML is the process of transferring or moving money through trade transactions. In practice, this can be achieved through misrepresentation of price, quantity or quality of imports or exports.
According to a recent Finance Ministry report on black money, the international trade system is subject to a wide range of risks and vulnerabilities, which provide unscrupulous entities the opportunity to launder money.
"Companies and individuals also shift money from one country to another to diversify risk and protect their wealth against the impact of financial or political crises.
"A common technique used to circumvent currency restrictions is to 'over-invoice' imports or 'under-invoice' exports. The primary method used is the falsification of import and export invoices," the report said.
Misuse of export promotion schemes such as drawback, Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB), Duty Free Import Authorisation (DFIA), Vishesh Krishi Gram Upaj Yojana (VKGUY), also lead to generation and flow of black money, it said.
"Several cases of forgery of export promotion scheme scrips or licenses, meant to claim duty exemption in imports have been detected, which highlight another aspect of black money generation and movement," the report said.