Bhopal: A Pakistani man has been arrested by the central GST intelligence officials for illegally selling pan masala. He had been selling pan masala worth crores in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. He did so even during the lockdown period, officials said Thursday.
The accused who had a long-term visa, was arrested Wednesday in Indore. He was by nabbed by officials of Directorate General of Goods and Services Intelligence (DGGI).
The arrest came after the DGGI officers conducted simultaneous search operations at five godowns controlled and operated by the accused. Raids were also carried out at his residence Saturday and Sunday in Indore.
“Unaccounted stock of pan masala / tobacco having total estimated value of about Rs 2.25 crore was seized during the search operation. There was no official disclosure about the material,” Additional Director General, DGGI said in a statement.
“Pan masala/tobacco was found to be stored in the godowns clandestinely for its distribution in various districts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra. It could have also been sent to other states,” the statement added.
During the search at the residential premises, Rs 66.47 lakh unaccounted cash amount was also seized, the DGGI said.
In his statement given to the officers, the accused confessed that the seized cash was the sale proceeds of the pan masala/tobacco. It was supplied without issuing invoice and without payment of GST.
Based on investigations by DGGI, it has been estimated that the accused person and his associates have evaded GST of around Rs 18.80 crore on goods, valued at about Rs 40 crore, sold illicitly for cash during the period from April 2019 to May 2020.
Considering the huge scale of tax evasion, in order to protect revenue, procedure of provisional attachment of immovable properties and bank accounts of the accused has been initiated.
“Under this process three immovable properties and five bank accounts belonging to the accused and his associate were provisionally attached on Wednesday,” the statement said.
The accused was arrested Wednesday and produced before an Economic Offences Wing (EOW) Court in Indore. It has remanded him to 14 days judicial custody up to June 17.
“Investigations by DGGI have also revealed that the arrested person is a Pakistan passport holder,” the statement said. “The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has been informed about his arrest,” it added.
The arrested person, aged 33 years, is a native of Jacobabad city under Sindh province of Pakistan, said a different DGGI official.
Guthkha sale and consumption is banned across most Indian states. The sale and distribution of pan masala and chewing tobacco had also been completely banned across India due to the pandemic-induced lockdown implemented March 25. It is considered a risk in spreading COVID-19 infection.