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DRI unearths over Rs 1,000 crore scam in rice export

Authorities have unearthed a massive scam in export of high-quality Basmati rice to Iran, running into over Rs 1,000 crore, in which the commodity was fraudulently diverted mid-sea to Dubai.

According to a probe being done by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), over two lakh metric tonnes of Basmati rice was illegally offloaded in Dubai in the last over a year instead of in Bandar Abbas in Iran, official sources said.

Over 25 big exporters from Haryana and Punjab are under the scanner of DRI and other agencies for their involvement in the multi-crore scam, they said.

Explaining the modus operandi, the sources said rice would be taken to Gujarat’s Kandla Port by these exporters.

They would then file Shipping Bills–documents filed with customs authorities carrying details of goods to be exported, consignor and consignee–for export to Iran, they said.

Instead of the consignment reaching Iranian shores, it would be diverted mid-sea to Dubai allegedly with the connivance of cargo ship operators carrying the goods.

Surprisingly, payments were also made from Iran to these exporters in India. Importers and port officials would allegedly acknowledge the receipt of rice and allow payment to be made against it here, the sources said.

What is worrying for intelligence agencies here is that they do not know the end-use of rice off-loaded in Dubai. They suspect use of rice as barter system to fund some illegal activity like terror financing, the sources said. The DRI has red-flagged the scam at the highest level and is in touch with authorities concerned in Dubai about the scam. Prima facie, two lakh metric tonnes of rice valued at about Rs 1,000 crore has been off-loaded in Dubai instead of Iran, they said. 
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