Indian investigators embark on new diamond TBML probe

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has said it is investigating Hong Kong-based diamond merchant Girish Kadel and three senior Mumbai customs officials, including a former commissioner for allegedly overvaluing imported diamonds in a trade-based money laundering (TBML) operation. 

The CBI alleges that Kadel over-invoiced 5,599 carats of rough diamonds at more than US$23.5 million whereas the diamonds had a true market value of just US$150,000.

CBI accusation

“Kadel conspired to import rough diamonds at highly exaggerated value with a view to siphoning/remitting the excess foreign exchange overseas to cover the differential cost of other imports, as well as park money abroad for unlawful activities,” according to a CBI First Information Report (FIR).

The bureau is now expected to obtain a Look-out Notice which means officials are instructed to try and identify Kadel at airport entrances and exit points in India.

Vigorous denial

But Kadel vigorously denies the allegations and told Indian media that he is a Belgian national with a company there, Antwerp-based Diamond Vault NV, and that he left India in 2002, since when he has conducted no business there.  

The diamond merchant claims he has visited India just five times since he left, the latest visit being in 2017. He denies knowing any customs officials.

Customs officials

The CBI meanwhile alleges the involvement of a former commissioner at Mumbai airport, Vinay Brij Singh, who oversaw cargo operations there at the time of the alleged offences in 2018.

A deputy commissioner who oversees imports and a deputy commissioner in the special intelligence and investigation branch at Mumbai airport customs were also allegedly involved in the TBML operation.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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