DRI dismantles luxury car traffic, Auto News, ET Auto

New Delhi: The Tax Intelligence Directorate dismantled a luxury car smuggling racket in Gurugram that caused tax evasion of over INR 25 crore by smuggling 20 vehicles into India on behalf of diplomats and diverting them to individual.

Three people including the CEO of the Big Boys Toyz luxury car dealership were arrested by the Tax Intelligence Directorate, a press release said.

According to the statement, “Operation Monte Carlo” was launched after DRI received reports that a group of individuals were smuggling high-end luxury cars into India under the guise of diplomats and diverting them to individuals, thus avoiding a large amount of customs duties.

It should be noted that the government exempts certain categories of members of Diplomatic Missions in India, as well as their families, from the payment of customs duties on all imported goods (see Notification No. 03/57 of 08.01.1957). According to the 1957 Rules (Customs Privileges Regulation), the net customs duty on automobile imports is 204%.

After receiving specific details of one of these imported luxury cars on behalf of a Delhi-based diplomat from an African country, DRI agents quietly monitored the vehicle after it arrived at the port.

Then the vehicle was loaded onto a transport vehicle and driven to an Andheri showroom, where it was displayed. During this time, DRI officers followed the vehicle and kept a close eye on it. Simultaneously, searches were carried out at the homes of key people involved in the racketeering as part of a carefully planned operation across India covering seven cities.

A total of six cars have been detained under the provisions of the 1962 customs law. Other cars have been identified and are in the process of being located, the agency said.

The mastermind of the racket was a Dubai-based individual who had previously been involved in customs offenses and had been investigated by the DRI. On behalf of diplomats, he would organize the importation of luxury cars to India from countries such as the UK, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

The actual buyers of the vehicles would be identified by the CEO of a popular chain specializing in the sale of used luxury cars. Upon arrival in India, these vehicles would be taken directly to the buyer’s city or a luxury car dealership.

National registration of these vehicles would take place at Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) in Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. Once the registration procedures were completed, these cars, on which the full 204% tariffs were avoided, would be sold to Indian buyers, resulting in huge profit at the expense of government revenue.

The Gurugram-based company (Big Boy Toyz) through a social media post and press release admitted to the incident and said the illegal activity was carried out without knowledge and without the consent of the company. He further mentioned the immediate resignation of the CEO and that the company is not responsible for any transactions carried out by the accused and that it is not responsible for any liability on his behalf.

Luxury car sales in India (priced above INR 2 crore) have apparently been on a growth path in recent years. The niche segment has more than tripled from around 150 cars in 2018 to around 500 cars in 2020. But the overall segment volume remains too low to be meaningful. Although India is one of the countries with the most millionaires in the world, it is not among the top 25 markets for such cars in the world.

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