The customs and excise department Saturday charged Vedanta group's Tuticorin-based Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd for evading duty by mis-declaration of export consignment. The company officials, however, charged the customs officials as being vindictive.
Charging Sterlite Industries for misdeclaration, excise officials said the company tried to ship out copper waste for separating gold and silver whereas the waste also contained other precious metals like platinum and palladium.
The officials intercepted a vehicle on Madurai-Tuticorin road and found 36 containers of copper waste.
As per the documents the consignment - copper waste containing gold and silver - was being taken to Chennai Port for onward shipment overseas for separation.
Speaking to reporters, Assistant Commissioner of Customs (Excise Duty Evasion Preventive Unit) Ganasekar said the consignment also had high concentration of platinum and palladium whose estimated value is around Rs.18 crore.
At Tuticorin, the company has its copper smelter, refinery, phosphoric/sulphuric acid and copper rod plant.
Copper waste worth Rs.60 crore was found in the warehouse of the company.
Officials told reporters the company could have avoided several hundreds of crore of rupees in the past by exporting copper waste.
Last month, company Vice President S. Varadharajan was arrested by the officials on the charge of evading duty to the tune of Rs.750 crore on import of raw materials.
According to company officials, the seizure of consignment Saturday is an vindictive action after Varadharajan got bail from Supreme Court.