India and Hong Kong authorities uncover diamond import scam

“Indian customs and Hong Kong customs have unearthed a major case of trade-based money laundering involving Hong Kong-based exporters and Indian importers located in [a] special economic zone in an exemplary case of bilateral cooperation and exchange of information,” said the Ministry of Finance in a statement, ET Bureau reported.  The Indian Directorate of Revenue Intelligence was part of the investigation and realised that the scam went beyond misrepresenting synthetic diamonds as real and that this covered up a more elaborate fraud. Both Indian and Hong Kong authorities have arrested four people in each territory. 

The DRI had detected a case of synthetic diamonds being imported at an inflated value to remit money out of India to Hong Kong in early 2023. The agency then realised that this was actually a cover up for a larger scale operation and determined that the operation’s mastermind was in Hong Kong. “Interestingly, while most of the declared inflated value of the imports was remitted out of the country through banking channels, the remittances received for the exports was seen to be only marginal at around 0.2%, indicating that this trade has been a cover to launder money outside.”    

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