Mumbai: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Tuesday lodged a case against diamond merchant Nirav Modi and his firms for allegedly diverting diamonds and pearls worth Rs890 crore to domestic markets through units located in the Surat SEZ, an official said.

The case pertains to alleged diversion of duty-free goods by units of Nirav Modi group of companies—Firestar Diamond International Pvt. Ltd, Firestar International Pvt. Ltd, and others—based in the Surat special economic zone (SEZ). These units are in the business of importing and exporting diamonds, pearls and jewellery, said the DRI official.

Duty-free import of goods is allowed for the units situated under an SEZ for the purpose of export only. “As per the probe , we detected a difference in the declared stock value of diamonds/pearls in the SEZ units in comparison with the ascertained actual value of the same. This clearly indicates that certain stock of these goods have been diverted to domestic tariff area," he said.

Separately, firms of Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are being probed by various agencies, such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) in connection with the alleged $2 billion PNB fraud case.

Referring to the Surat SEZ case, he said, “It has been noticed from scrutiny of the documents available that goods worth Rs890 crore (approximately), involving customs duty of around Rs52 crore, appear to have been diverted by the SEZ units of the Nirav Modi group of companies to the domestic market."

According to the official, the DRI arrived at the value of the goods by collating various documentary evidence. “The DRI is currently ascertaining the year and the exact quantity of the diverted goods."

In 2014, the DRI had registered a similar case of customs duty evasion against three SEZ companies (Firestar Diamond International Pvt. Ltd, Firestar International Pvt. Ltd, and Radashir Jewellery Co. Pvt. Ltd) of the Nirav Modi group in Surat, and launched a prosecution against them under Customs Act, 1962. The companies had paid 48.21 crore towards customs duty along with the interest and penalty in the 2014 case.

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