Despite opposition of DRI, Chidambaram launched 80:20 gold import scheme

Despite opposition of DRI Chidambaram launched 80 20 gold import schemeNEW DELHI: Members of a PAC sub-committee have found that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence was not in favor of the 80:20 gold import scheme launched in 2013 during the tenure of the then finance minister P Chidambaram, sources claimed here after officials of the finance ministry shared details with the panel.

The sub-committee of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) headed by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey has also decided to recommend a CBI inquiry to look into the procedures followed by the then finance minister in launching this scheme, a member said on the condition of anonymity.

The DRI had hinted that the scheme could lead to round-tripping of black money and money laundering, the sources claimed.

In August 2013, the then UPA government had introduced the 80:20 rule, which allowed traders to import gold only after they had exported 20 per cent of gold from their previous import. The rule was scrapped in November 2014 after the NDA came to power.

As per the details shared by the finance ministry officials with PAC sub-committee looking into the 80:20 gold import scheme, the DRI was clearly against introduction of this scheme and had even hinted that it could lead to money laundering and round-tripping of black money, the sources said.

Last week, while discussing the CAG report of 2016 on gold imports, the members had questioned Chidambaram’s role over the alleged misuse of the 80:20 gold import scheme by jewellers including fugitive Mehul Choksi for money laundering, sources said.

The Revenue secretary and top officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had appeared before the panel.

The members pointed that the scheme resulted in a loss of over Rs 1 lakh crore to the exchequer and said even the CAG report had said to support the earning of one US dollar (around Rs 60 then) for jewellers, the government had to bear the expenditure in the form of duty foregone of Rs 221.75.

Through the process known as round-tripping, black money that goes out of the country returns as white money.

Members asked the ED director, CBDT and CBEC chairmen and Revenue secretary to share all file notings with them and also probe the possible linkages between the scheme and the PNB fraud.

The CBI has alleged that Choksi and his jeweller nephew Nirav Modi defrauded the Punjab National Bank of around Rs 12,636 crore. Both left the country in January.-PTI

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