Intelligence agency unearths multi-crore coal import scam

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has unearthed a scam involving companies inflating the value of coal imports from Indonesia to their power plants, thus siphoning money abroad. Initial estimates pegged the overvaluation at Rs.29,000 crore during 2011 – 2014. The agency has raided over 80 shipping companies, intermediaries, and laboratories across India including Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Kerala in search of documents that contain the real value of the imports, and lab reports for verification of the calorific value of the imported coal. One official said almost every importer, including reputed companies have indulged in overvaluation of coal imports. Indian companies including public sector ones imported 77 million tonnes of coal from Indonesia during 2012-13. The modus operandi used by the companies was to have the coal imports shipped directly from Indonesia but the invoices are routed through an intermediary based either in Hong Kong, Singapore or Dubai. The overvalued component would then be diverted to tax havens. The companies did not avail of the Preferential Trade Agreement as they would then have to produce the certificate that would carry the real value.