Diving contractors deny customs duty evasion

Vol 18, PW 21 (18 Jun 15) People & Policy

Two Mumbai-based diving companies who worked for ONGC and BG strongly deny evading customs duty - allegations contained in a letter sent on April 28 by an unknown individual called Rahul Singh.

Nothing is known about Singh, his phone number and Navi Mumbai address in the letter don't exist. However, his letter sent to the additional director general vigilance (customs) Madhu Mohan Damodar with copies to the DGH, ONGC and PMO allege that IGOPL and Supreme Hydro separately imported diving systems as contractors and sub-contractors to BG, Leighton Offshore, Swiber and ONGC with Essentiality Certificates (EC) from the DGH for duty-free imports.

“Equipment was not re-exported (as required under the rules) but siphoned (sic) off to their respective yards in Mumbai and supplied to other customers thereby evading customs duty,” writes Singh. He claims that in 2011-12 Supreme imported a Saturation Diving System from Singapore’s Halin Offshore for use at the Panna, Mukta and Tapti fields (PMT) offshore Mumbai.

But instead of re-exporting after the assignment Supreme allegedly stored the system in its yard and supplied it to other customers at lower rates as no customs duty was paid. When contacted IGOPL confirms it imported an air diving system from Singapore “a few months ago” for ONGC but that it’s now in a "custom-bonded warehouse" for re-export to Singapore.

“This allegation is baseless," says IOGPL, "and the work of competitors."