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Notice To Lalit Modi For Evasion Of Rs 18 Cr Duty

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In fresh trouble for former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, DRI has issued a show cause notice to him and two others for evasion of customs duty of Rs 18.32 crore in the import of an aircraft.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence sources said today the aircraft was imported with the involvement of "dummy" companies floated by Modi to evade customs duty by showing it as one meant for the purpose of providing Non-Scheduled (Passenger) Services when, in reality, it was for personal use of the former IPL boss.

The Rs 100 crore aircraft "Bombardier Challenger 300 (VT-RAK)" was imported in the name of M/s Golden Wings Pvt Ltd from Peel Aviation, Ireland, on lease amount of Rs 10.85 crore for a period of seven years beginning 2008. "Investigations revealed that Peel Aviation was a corporate veil to mask the actual owner of the aircraft, Modi", the notice said.

In its investigations, the DRI has relied upon email communications between Modi and his former employee Deepa Palekar and statements given by GWPL directors.

At the time of import, in terms of condition of the exemption notification, M/s GWPL had given an undertaking to use the aircraft only for the purpose of providing Non-Scheduled (Passenger) Services.

On the basis of this undertaking, they had availed the benefit of the exemption and the aircraft was assessed to Nil rate of duty, the notice said.

It was found that the said aircraft was not being used for the declared purpose and they had violated the condition of the exemption, it said.

Customs duty exemptions are given when an aircraft is imported for non-scheduled passenger services or non-scheduled charter services.

The Passenger Manifests (details of the passengers travelling in the plane) and abstract of Tech Log Book (log of the movements) of the aircraft which were maintained as per the requirements of Directorate General of Civil Aviation were examined by DRI.

The investigation revealed that the aircraft was used for Modi's personal movement as not only most of the flights were undertaken by him, his family and friends, but also the aircraft's operation was controlled by him remotely.

It was also found that there was not even a single NSOP passenger service, the notice further said.

Reopen BOM 7 Notices have also been sent to two of GWPL's directors--Pradeep Thampi and Tanveer Akhtar Romani, besides Modi.

The aircraft was acquired in the name of GWPL from M/s Peel Aviation, Ireland, for a lease amount of USD 75,000 per month, for a period of 7 years from May 2008. No security deposit had been paid to M/s Peel Aviation. On obtaining necessary permissions from the concerned authorities, the aircraft was imported into India on April 17, 2008.

Investigations revealed that Modi had told one of the company's directors that he would require an exclusive aircraft for IPL matches. Therefore, he had planned to get it through M/s Peel Aviation and used the aircraft for himself.

It was found that Modi had negotiated with M/s Bombardier Inc. for the purchase of Bombardier Challenger-300 Model aircraft and purchased it through M/s Peel Aviation and leased it to M/s GWPL.

The aircraft is at present parked at Beggin Hills airport after it made its last trip to the United Kingdom on January 20, 2010.

The controversial cricket entrepreneur is living in London since he left India citing security threats after being sacked as IPL commissioner over allegations of corruption.