Nagpur: Former Sri Lankan cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya, along with two other cricketers, has been accused of smuggling rotten betel nuts to India, as per a report in The Dainik Bhaskar. Two other cricketers have been said to be involved in the alleged tax-evasion fraudulent deal but their names are yet to be revealed.
Betel nut worth millions of rupees was seized in Nagpur by the directorate of revenue intelligence. As per the report, after Jayasuriya’s name was revealed, he was also called to Mumbai for questioning by the revenue intelligence team. After the probe, a letter was sent to the Sri Lanka government for a further inquiry. Two other cricketers are also likely to be called for the probe by December 2.
According to the Dainik Bhaskar report, Dilip Sivare, the deputy director of revenue intelligence, revealed that the betel nuts were brought from Indonesia to Sri Lanka from where it was brought to India. Dummy companies are said to have been formed in Sri Lanka for the same purpose to draw an illegal advantage out of the SAFTA (South Asian Free Trade Area) Act that gives a tax holiday on certain consignments between neighbours Sri Lanka and India for goods produced indigenously by either and sold to the other.
The cricketers are said to have used their stardom and popularity to get the trade and export licences from the Sri Lankan authorities to form the dummy companies in Sri Lanka as well as create fake documents certifying that the betel nuts were produced in Sri Lanka.
There is a 108% import duty if betel nut is imported directly from Indonesia. But the heavy import duty can be evaded if imports are done from Sri Lanka under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement.
The businessmen from Nagpur make the most profit by importing betel nut. The businessmen in Sri Lanka sell the rotten betel nuts to their Indian counterparts in Nagpur at just 25% of its original price. In that case, betel nut worts Rs 100 crore is bought for Rs 25 crore by Indian businessmen – who then spuriously mix it with betel nut of good quality and supply to different parts of the country.