FinMin likely to share details of 80:20 gold import scheme with PAC

Finance Ministry officials are likely to share all details related to the 80:20 gold import scheme with Parliament's Public Accounts Committee, sources said on Monday.

The move comes after BJP members of the panel alleged it was misused by jewellers including Mehul Choksi for money laundering.

At a meeting of the committee last week, BJP members of the PAC had zeroed in on former finance minister P Chidambaram, under whose tenure the government's 80:20 gold import scheme was launched.

The Revenue Secretary and top officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had appeared before the PAC's sub-committee headed by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.

During the meeting, the members had directed the officials to share all notings related to the scheme with the panel. These are likely to be shared within a week, a source said.

In August 2013, the then UPA government had introduced the 80:20 rule, which said traders would be allowed to import gold only after they had exported 20 per cent of gold from their previous import.

The rule was scrapped in November 2014 after the NDA came to power.

At the meeting last week, the PAC members discussed a CAG report of 2016 which, they said, pointed out that the scheme resulted in a loss of over Rs 1 trillion to the exchequer, a source who was present at the meeting said on the condition of anonymity.

They also raised questions about then finance minister P Chidambaram, under whose tenure the scheme was launched, and said even the CAG report had said to support the earning of one US dollar (around Rs 60 then) for jewellers, the government had to bear the expenditure in the form of duty foregone of Rs 221.75.

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General clearly indicated that the scheme was used by jewellers including Choksi for "round tripping of black money and money laundering", Dubey had said at the meeting, claiming that it seemed P Chidambaram was aware of this.

Through the process known as round tripping, black money that goes out of the country returns as white money.

The CBI has alleged that Choksi and his jeweller nephew Nirav Modi defrauded the Punjab National Bank of around Rs 126.36 billion. Both left the country in January.

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