She said the focus of enforcement agencies should be to nab the “brain” behind illegal trade, which would in turn act as a deterrence for such unlawful activities that hurt the economy as well as citizens.
The nature of smuggled or illegally traded goods has not changed over the last 50-60 years and it continues to be precious metals, narcotics, and precious reserves from forest or marine life, Sitharaman said at the Global Conference on Cooperation in Enforcement Matters organised by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI). “Largely the goods which are illegally traded remain the same. There are no newer areas on which the customs authorities are baffled. If this is the way it is showing a trend over the decade, by now most of us should be fairly informed of who are the forces behind it.
“I place a lot of emphasis on intergovernmental cooperation, along with WCO (World Customs Organisation), so that we are able to crack the brains behind it (smuggling), the masterminds behind it, with the help from local authorities and governments,” the minister said.
She said deterrence of illicit trade will be strengthened if all confiscated goods are destroyed and not put into the market. Stating that prevention and deterrence would help in curbing the menace of illicit trade and smuggling, she said enforcement agencies are at an advantageous position as they are armed with technology.