One of the benefits of living in a developing country is discovering that pretty much nothing is ever as it seems. The latest news out of the Telegraph confirms that, by reporting on a crack down in a massive stolen-car scam which has seen the country's millionaires abandon their supercars, among them Bentleys and Aston Martins, literally on the streets of New Delhi in droves: up to 400 cars are suspected of being part of the tax-scam and theft ring. It turns out that these same cars, which were sold to top Bollywood film stars, and a couple of Indian international cricket players, were stolen from around the world, then resold by the top car dealer as second hand and falsely claimed the cars were being supplied tax-free to diplomats in order to avoid India's double taxation of luxury vehicles. "More than 40 cars are now impounded in a government car park. Models parked in the lot include Porsche Panameras, sold in India for £250,000, a Bentley Continental Supersport, costing £350,000, several Aston Martin Rapides, with a price tag of £290,000 and a Maserati, costing £170,000." But while the dealers were merely providing an unmet, if illegal, service, the ultimate enabler of this behavior is naturally the Indian Central Bank, which despite attempts to cool inflation, has created massive pockets of wealth in a society that only compares to China (and the US of course), in the schism between the few uberwealthy, and the masses of less than privileged lower classes.
From the Telegraph:
According to officials from India's Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the alleged scheme to cheat its tax authority out of millions of pounds centres on a British-Indian car dealer in Britain who is accused of arranging shipments to India where demand for luxury cars is insatiable. In some Indian cities businessmen have formed groups to bulk buy Mercedes cars direct from the manufacturer because they are too far from an official dealer.
Detectives are now seeking permission to take their investigation to London where a number of Britons are suspected of involvement. They are also preparing to approach North Korea and Vietnam to uncover more information about the roles played by their diplomats in New Delhi.
Investigators believe they were lured into the scheme by dealers to exploit diplomatic tax concessions. Duties on imported luxury cars are 100 per cent of their import value – doubling their price.
A New Delhi-based car dealer, named as Sumit Walia, was arrested earlier this month and charged with importing luxury cars on forged invoices. Detectives claim he has defrauded the customs authorities by passing off new cars as second-hand to save 40 per cent on import duties.
They suspect some of the cars may have been stolen in Britain, France, Singapore and Japan before being imported to India.
One businessman bought a Bentley Continental Supersports from an employee of New Delhi's North Korean embassy, which is not known for its high-paid diplomats or luxury fleet. The deal was allegedly brokered by Mr Walia, one Directorate of Revenue Intelligence official told The Daily Telegraph. Another was imported by a Vietnamese diplomat and sold to a different businessman. "Our investigators suspect around 300 to 400 luxury cars have been imported on fake papers and sold in all major cities across India using the same modus-operandi," said the revenue intelligence official.
And in other news, we are confident that if the data were actually collected, the number of Indians on foodstamps would be currently at a record. Just like in the US.