Hyderabad: Gold fraud inside SEZ on for more than a year, say sources

Accountant of Sri Krishna Jewellers who ‘forged false receipts’ held.

Hyderabad: An accountant working for Sri Krishna Jewellers, Varadarajulu, who has reportedly played a key role in developing false receipts of the export of gold ornaments for the company, was arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Wednesday. He was sent to Chanchalguda Central Prison after being produced before the Special Court for Economic Offences at Nampally.

Four days of hard work, three searches and raids, two reccees and one big catch of gold by the DRI has unearthed one of the biggest frauds busted by the zonal unit. The fraud of over Rs 330 crore was committed by the unit belonging to the jewellery store, present in the Gems and Jewellery Special Economic Zone located at Ravirala in Shamshabad.

The DRI had been tipped off about gold being transported at Siddiamber Bazar on May 2. A team rushed there and found 10 kilos of gold, which was being sent to a unit of Sri Krishna Jewellers at Siddiamber Bazar, when it was actually meant to be at the SEZ and had to be exported. This resulted in simultaneous raids and searches at multiple locations of the jewellery store and the second biggest catch of 50 kg of gold by the DRI (The DRI, Mumbai, caught 250 kg of gold about two months ago.)

Sources close to the DRI said that a recce was conducted at the house of the unit’s managing director and two units located at SEZ and Banjara Hills after a tip was received about the false declaration of the export quantity of the gold by the store. “On verification, it was found that the gold that was to have been exported by making it into jewellery was diverted into the local market and sold for a profit of between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh per kg depending on the changing gold rate,” the source added

“As there is no export tax on the jewellery made at the SEZ unit, they do not pay tax on the import also, which helped them gain a profit of not less than Rs 40 crore. The SEZ unit seems to have been started only for the purpose of making illegal profits and the fraud is being committed for the last one-and-a-half years,” said the sources.

On Sunday, the managing director of the unit, Pradeep Kumar, was arrested, and then followed the arrests of his security guard Venkateshwara Rao, personal assistant Venkatesh and on Wednesday, the accountant Varadarajulu was arrested.

“As the reports of searches and raids were out, the associates of Pradeep who were involved in the fraud escaped, locking their houses. At least four to five people are yet to be held, including the general manager of the store,” the sources said.

As efforts to nab the absconding accused continue, the officials will now get an adjudication order from the court to the accused to pay tax on the seized gold.

“It will take time to complete the documentation and file a charge-sheet. However, the diverted 1,100 kg of gold cannot be retrieved now,” said the sources.

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