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Need for close cooperation between Police & Customs organizations to combat menace of illicit trade: Former Pr. Director-General, DRI

New Delhi: Mr DP Dash, Former Pr. Director-General, DRI and Former Chairman, Enforcement Committee, World Customs Organisation (WCO) and Think Tank Member, FICCI CASCADE said, “There is a need for close cooperation between police and customs organizations to combat the menace of illicit trade and take actions more appropriately.”  

Addressing the concluding session of MASCRADE 2021 (Movement Against Smuggled and Counterfeit Trade) organized by FICCI’s Committee Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting Activities Destroying the Economy (CASCADE) said that effective enforcement with industry and govt participation will act as a vaccine against the virus called counterfeiting and smuggling.

 Various discussions during the session noted that as per estimates by UNODC, the profits that the transnational organized crime derived from the shadow industries have been estimated to be as high as USD 870 billion, which is equivalent to 1.5 per cent of the global GDP. It is seen that prominent terrorist organizations rely on illicit trade for financing up to 20 per cent of their anti-social operations.

Talking about the preparedness of Delhi Police to address such crimes, Mr Suvashis Choudhary, IPS, Jt Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police emphasized, “The police, now, is stressing on crimes related to illicit trade”.  Mr Choudhary further highlighted the impending problem of counterfeit vaccine that the police will have to deal as the country prepares for the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Mr Anil Rajput, Chairman, FICCI CASCADE said, “It is a fact that the Industry is reeling under the impact of the COVID pandemic with some sectors expected to make faster recovery. For many others it will be a slow and painful way back to the pre-COVID levels.”

 Drawing similarities between illicit trade and the COVID pandemic, Mr Rajput said, “COVID virus and illicit trade have a lot in common as both cause immense economic, social and individual distress. While we are at a point of countering the virus, it is illicit trade that has and continues to damage humankind in a massive manner”.

 It was noted that the fake FMCG market is growing at an annual rate of 44.4 per cent and this is higher than the growth rate of the overall FMCG market. In addition, 3 lakh crore of FMCG products circulated in India are counterfeit. The perpetrators of illicit trade have also made deep inroads into popular pandemic products like sanitizers, face masks, PPE Kits, medicine, disinfectants, toiletries and much more. As the menace of illicit trade continuously grows in India, it has also become the fourth largest illegal cigarette market in the world. Seizure reports have indicated that in just four months of lockdown (June – Sept 2020), INR 400 crore worth of smuggled cigarettes were detected in the country.

 Elaborating on the two-day event that was held virtually on 21-22 January, Mr Rajput said that deliberations looked at the economic consequences of counterfeiting and smuggling and the policies needed to deter this activity. It also contributed to an integrated vision of security and public safety.

Further, the discussions deepened the understanding of grey markets for smuggled and counterfeit goods which has seen a surge during COVID times and assessed the impact and tried to provide practical recommendations and effective strategies to mitigate this challenge especially in a post- COVID era.

 Various issues such as Illicit trade amid public health crisis; Placing Public Health and Safety at the Heart of The Fight Against Smuggling and Counterfeiting and Quarantining Counterfeiting and Smuggling- Accelerate Action Against Criminals among others were deliberated in the two-day dialogue. The need for a systematic treatment and persuasion by global community for stronger enforcement to combat this menace was reiterated by a host of notable international speakers from World Customs Organization, INTERPOL, OECD, TRACIT, UKIPO, Italian Law Enforcement Agency, senior enforcement officers from the field and captains from the industry.

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