New Delhi: An Additional Director General (ADG) of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Chander Shekhar who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday had written a “secret note” to the Director General, DRI expressing apprehension that an exporter under investigation – Vikas Chowdhary – was indulging in a malicious campaign to derail investigations.
The “secret note” was sent by Chander Shekhar who was posted in Ludhiana to Director General, DRI on November 18. Shekhar was arrested alongwith two private persons on January 1 by CBI on charges of demanding and accepting Rs 25 lakh bribe from a Delhi exporter to ensure not to implicate him in a document recovery case.
Chander Shekhar, who was posted in Punjab’s Ludhiana, was held along with his close friend Rajesh Dhanda and clearing house agent Anup Joshi following a complaint of the Delhi-based exporter.
Dhanda and Joshi were arrested while demanding and accepting Rs 25 lakh from the complainant while the DRI official was arrested during investigation.
It turns out that Shekhar had expressed this apprehension in a letter to his senior officer in November. In the secret letter, Shekhar wrote, “Market intelligence input suggest that well before the raids of 11.09.2019, Vikas Chowdhary had indicated that he would try his level best to move the enquiry away from DRI, Ludhiana Zonal Unit as he feared severe action from them. It is also learnt that a malicious campaign of complaints was also initiated by him against the officers of DRI, Ludhiana to divert attention from this high stakes case and derail the investigations done by them.”
Shekhar in his secret letter while explaining the case against Chowdhary is indicating that several events are unexplained in the course of the enquiry by DRI headquarters, DGGI and has refrained from sending any documents but put even oral conversations in the form of a formal note.
“The above narration is brought to your kind notice as the sequence of events as mentioned in preceding paras do not appear to be in line of regular enquiry for reasons more than one,” Shekhar wrote.
He has also mentioned having a personal meeting with DG DRI on the matter. “The above narration (except the contents of Para 6 above) were also bought to your kind attention during our personal interaction on 09.10.2019 (at DRI, HQ), on 31.10.2019 (at Chandigarh) and on 08.11.2019 (at DRI, HQ). However looking into the sensitivity of the case and the huge revenue involved, the same is brought on record in form of this Secret Note. No enclosures are being sent with this Secret Note as all the correspondence referred is readily available in the case records since transferred to HQ (except those pertaining to Para 6 above). However, if required, the same can be sent as and when directed,” he added.
Shekhar has also mentioned that DRI Ludhiana was asked to transfer the investigation to DRI HQ on October 11, 2019.
“Please refer to your office letter no. DRI/HQ-CI/ B Cell/50D/ENQ-32/INT-15/2019 dated 03.10.2019 (received on 11.10.2019) whereby Ludhiana Zonal Unit was conveyed the directions of the Competent Authority to transfer all the investigations done by it to DRI, HQ in the case as mentioned in the subject above. The directions were duly complied with immediately,” he said.
The investigations are in the case of fraudulent exports by Aastha Apparels, JBB Apparels, JBN Apparels, and Nautilus Metal Craft based in Lajpat Nagar and Okhla in New Delhi.
Shekhar mentioned in the letter, “To put the magnitude of the case in brief, it is submitted that the case involves circular trading of invoices to the tune of over Rs 2,000 crore, fraudulent export incentive of Rs 108 crore and hawala transactions in the range of Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,500 crore. The case also involves an alleged offender who had in past been placed under COFEPOSA in addition to being a habitual complainant and another alleged offender, who, very recently had been denied permissions by courts to travel abroad.”
As per DRI Ludhiana investigations mentioned by the ADG it was observed that these four exporting firms owned by Vikas Chowdhary had availed export incentives of Rs 108 crore and the procurement of these four exporting firms were from 12 companies owned by one Ludhiana-based R.K. Goyal, who had in past been a COFEPOSA detainee. The transaction appeared suspicious and accordingly, DRI, LdZU issued letter to Punjab State GST for providing complete chain of purchase of 12 firms.
“It is also worthwhile to note that Vikas Choudhary who all the while abstained himself from appearing before DRI, LdZU, on umpteen occasions, appeared before DRI, HQ on successive dates,” Shekhar said, alluding to point about Chowdhary not being comfortable with DRI Ludhiana investigation.
According to the secret note, Punjab State GST submitted a comprehensive 46-page final investigation report in respect of all 12 companies owned by R.K. Goyal to DRI, LdZU which indicated that the purchase of the said 12 firms appeared to be bogus as the trail down the suppliers became nil in each of the 12 companies.
The question arose that if the procurement of 12 companies of R.K. Goyal are bogus, as indicated by Punjab GST reports, the supplies made by them to four exporting firms of Vikas Chowdhary are bogus too and therefore the nature of goods exported by these four companies needed to be investigated, Shekhar added.
“The entire case appeared to be case circular trading of invoices of over Rs 2,000 crore by creating a maze of fictitious companies. Its worthwhile to mention here that on these suspected exports, four exporting firms of Shri Vikas Chowdhary had availed export incentives of Rs 108 crore. The foreign remittances received to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 1,500 crore (presuming export incentive to be in range of 7.5 to 10 per cent) also therefore appeared to be of doubtful nature,” Shekhar said in the secret note to DG DRI.