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Indian iron-ore miners under investigation for tax evasion, money laundering

06 March 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Ajoy K Das
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Author: Ajoy K Das

Following close on the heels of being indicted for illegal mining, several Indian iron-ore miners are being investigated for duty evasion on export shipments and money laundering.

According to senior government officials, the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), an investigation wing under the federal Finance Ministry, has started investigating mining companies across the provinces of Goa, Karnataka and Odisha.

Establishments of several miners have been raided and employees have been questioned as part of the "ongoing investigation”, an official said.

The investigation was aimed at unearthing tax evasion by iron-ore miners which undervalue the export price of iron-ore. The DRI was also investigating charges that the difference between the lower declared price and the actual price received from buyers had been parked overseas, which amounts to money laundering, the officials said.

The officials did not divulge the names of the companies under investigation or those that were raided by the DRI, but it is understood that the mining companies fingered in a report by the M B Shah Commission, appointed for investigating illegal iron-ore mining across the country, are being probed.

According to the commission’s report, illegal mining and tax evasion in the western province of Goa had resulted in a loss of $5.7-billion to the national exchequer over the last 12 years. The commission had indicted 80 of the total 90 mining companies operating in the province.

In Odisha, the commission had pegged the value of illegal mining and loss to the national exchequer at $9.6-billion, between 2008 and 2011.

However, several analysts said that the current investigations into tax evasion and money laundering were unlikely to be concluded, as the Indian national elections from April 7 to May 12 were announced on Wednesday. The analysts said several of the mining companies were controlled by heavyweights of national and regional political parties and investigations by federal agencies could be construed as a political vendetta  or as arm-twisting to encourage the striking of electoral alliances between political parties.

This article first appeared on miningweekly.com.


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