India’s key probe agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation has indicted 17 people and companies, including diamond merchant Girish Kadel along with three customs officers for being involved in “trade-based money laundering” by overvaluing imported diamonds worth $21 million, officials said on Tuesday.
According to a senior agency official, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) found Hong Kong-based businessman Kadel imported diamonds from Switzerland to Hong Kong using four different companies.
“The DRI found that Kadel exported some of those rough diamonds in India overvalued at $21 million approx. (Rs.1560 million) instead of the $.01 million(Rs.10 million actual price) with the intention to facilitate trade-based money laundering and an attempt to siphon off foreign currency equivalent to the value declared,” the officer said.
After the DRI found that three custom officials were allegedly involved, the case was referred to the agency, the officer said.
“A sanction under section 17A (police or agency seeking permission from government to carry out probe against any official was duly taken before registering a case against the Customs officials,” he said, adding that a former top custom chief is also under invetsigation.
The agency said that Kadel along with his associates imported the diamonds at high value in order to siphon off the excess foreign exchange.