Gold smuggling likely to rise in India as festive buyers try to avoid new tax

A Indian legislation makes it mandatory for jewelers to keep records of customers’ personal identification numbers or tax code number for transactions above 50,000 rupees. (Reuters)
Updated 27 September 2017
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Gold smuggling likely to rise in India as festive buyers try to avoid new tax

MUMBAI: Gold smuggling in India, the world’s second-biggest consumer of the metal, is likely to rise during the country’s peak holiday season as buyers try to avoid paying a new sales tax and to dodge new transparency rules.
In August, India moved to include gold sales under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The law makes it mandatory for jewelers to keep records of customers’ personal identification numbers or tax code number for transactions above 50,000 rupees (SR2,870).
Indian gold demand typically rises in the last three months of the year as consumer buy more for the wedding season as well as for festivals such as Diwali and Dussehra.
“The government implemented the PMLA rule but it didn’t take efforts to popularise. Customers are not aware of the rule and are hesitating in giving necessary details,” said Surendra Mehta, secretary of the India Bullion and Jewelers Association. “Unaccounted sale will rise in the festive season as some customers are trying to buy without bills.”
The tax avoidance recalls the unintended consequences of India’s decision to raise import taxes on gold to 10 percent by August 2013.
The duty failed to curb demand but revived smuggling networks which, the World Gold Council estimates, imported 120 tons of gold in 2016, over one-fifth of total annual arrivals.
“The new rule is turning out to be counterproductive. Instead of giving required details, customers are buying without proper receipts to save tax,” said Harshad Ajmera, the proprietor of JJ Gold House, a wholesaler in the eastern Indian city Kolkata.
The sales tax on gold rose to 3 percent from 1.2 percent as part of a new nationwide sales tax regime that started on July 1.
“Jewelers are buying smuggled gold at discount in cash, then making jewelery and selling it to consumers without receipts,” said Daman Prakash Rathod, director at wholesaler MNC Bullion in the southern city of Chennai.
In India, less than 4 percent of the people pay income tax. Many tax evaders choose to park their illicit wealth in gold as it is nearly as liquid as currency in the country.
The new limit of 50,000 rupees is too low and makes it mandatory to seek identification details of almost each customer, said Kumar Jain, vice president, Mumbai Jewellers Association.
“The rule has hurt sentiments. Usually demand improves ahead of Dussehra but this year demand is very weak,” Jain said.
Indians will celebrate Dussehra on September 30, a holiday when buying gold is considered auspicious.
Rural demand for gold, the driver of two-thirds of India’s demand, was weak because of erratic monsoon rains and rising gold prices, said Mangesh Devi, a jeweler in the western state of Maharashtra, who caters mainly farmers.
Local gold prices have risen nearly 9 percent so far in 2017.
India’s food grain production from summer-sown crops is likely to fall 2.8 percent in 2017/18 from a year ago.


CrowdStrike said to hire Goldman Sachs to lead IPO

Updated 15 min 13 sec ago
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CrowdStrike said to hire Goldman Sachs to lead IPO

  • IPO could come in first half of next year
  • CrowdStrike raised $200 million in June

NEW YORK: Cybersecurity software maker CrowdStrike Inc. has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group to prepare for an initial public offering that could come in the first half of next year, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
CrowdStrike is aiming to be valued more than the $3 billion funding round assigned to it earlier this year, the sources added.
CrowdStrike’s IPO plans could still change, the sources cautioned, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.
CrowdStrike and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
Sunnyvale, California-based CrowdStrike raised $200 million in June led by investors General Atlantic, Accel and IVP. Other major backers include CapitalG, an investment arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. and Warburg Pincus.
CrowdStrike uses artificial intelligence for its Falcon platform to prevent attacks on computers on or off the network.
CrowdStrike is trying to stand out from the hundreds of security startups that have sprouted in recent years, promising next-generation technologies to fight cyber criminals, government spies and hacker activists, who have plagued some of the world’s biggest corporations.
The recent crop of publicly listed cybersecurity companies have had a mixed stock performance. Zscaler Inc. went public in the spring and is trading 125 percent above its IPO price. Tenable Holdings Inc. is worth about 25 percent more than its IPO price. Carbon Black shares have been trading below their IPO price.
CrowdStrike was founded in 2012 by two executives who left security software maker McAfee, including George Kurtz, the startup’s chief executive.