NEW DELHI: The Income Tax Department has carried out search and seizure operations on an importer and trader of laptops, mobile phones and peripheral parts. The search operations commenced on October 10 and were carried out across the National Capital Region (NCR), Haryana and West Bengal. During the course of the search, several incriminating documents, diaries and digital evidences have been found that reveal that the said group is entrenched into large-scale under-invoicing and wrongful declaration of goods imported by it. Evidence indicating unrecorded transactions, unaccounted investment in properties, bogus loans and others have also been gathered. Import in name of shell entitiesThe modus operandi involves import of goods in the name of shell entities at under-valued and/or wrongful declaration of description of goods imported, with an intent to evade customs duty. Upon clearance at port(s), such goods have been found to be distributed throughout India by way of out-of-books cash transactions. This aspect has been fortified while searching one of the containers at Kolkata port, where the bill of lading declared the goods as ‘HDMI cables’ valued at Rs 3.8 lakh. However, on de-sealing and searching the same, it was revealed that the actual goods imported are high-value items, like laptops, mobile phones, valued at Rs 64 crore. Payment through hawala channelsEvidence found and seized during the course of the search reveal that the payments for such under-invoiced goods to the foreign consigners have been made through hawala channels. Almost the entire business has been found to be run through such modus-operandi. Though the value of imports declared at the port of entry by the use of such shell entities in the last three years is about Rs 20 crore, it is estimated that the actual value during this period could be more than Rs 2,000 crore, given the massive under-valuation detected. The wealth, so generated, has been used for acquisition of high-value immovable properties, disguising of cash introduced in the form of bogus rental income and bogus unsecured loans, and deposits in foreign bank accounts. During the course of the search, unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs 2.75 crore has also been seized.