Durban court slaps businessman with R600 000.00 fine after he tried to export 10 containers of scrap metal worth R1.1 million

A Gauteng scrap metal dealer, who tried to export 10 containers of scrap metal out of South Africa, has been given a hefty R600 000.00 fine by the Durban Magistrate’s Court, it has been reported IOL. The Court also sentenced the Boksburg businessman Gautam Lal to five years imprisonment, wholly suspended for a period of five years.

It came with conditions, after he pleaded guilty to two counts of exporting steel scrap metal without obtaining an export permit (Contravention of the International Trade Administration Act) and two counts of making a false declaration (Contravention of the Customs and Excise Act).

It was the first time a KwaZulu-Natal court convicted a person in their personal capacity, instead of their company, on such charges.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara said the offences took place in February and March 2020.

Lal, who is a businessman from Boksburg, specialised in the buying and selling of scrap metal.

Legislation requires that no goods of a specific class or kind may be exported from South Africa, except under the authority of, and in accordance with, the conditions stated in a permit issued by the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC). An export permit must be applied for within ITAC, for certain commodities, including scrap metal in various forms, before the exportation of that commodity.

The NPA said that, in February 2020, Lal attempted to export 10 containers of scrap metal, valued at about R1.1 million. In March 2020, he attempted to export eight containers of scrap metal valued at about R922 000. This was done without having a permit from the ITAC.

“He planned on exporting the commodities to the Port of Mundra, in India. Further, he made false declarations by attaching false/incorrect tariff codes to the items due for export. He was arrested following an inspection by the SARS Customs Investigation Unit,” Kara said.

In giving Lal the five years wholly suspended sentence, the court imposed the following conditions:

– He must not be convicted of any offence involving a contravention of the International Trade Administration Act, which is committed during the period of suspension.

– He pays a fine of R600 000.00 at the clerk of the Durban Magistrate’s Court over the next 20 months.

– An instalment of R30 000.00 has to be paid at the end of each month.

Lal also paid an amount of about R266 000.00 to SARS for penalties imposed.

The matter was finalised by the Regional Court control Prosecutor Vaneshree Moodley.

Another person fined for illegally exporting scrap metal to India without a permit
Deepak Kumar Metha was ordered to pay a R250 000.00 fine, in five instalments, after pleading guilty in the Durban Magistrate’s Court to exporting scrap metal without obtaining an export permit.

According to Kara, in February, Metha had five containers to be prepared for export from the Port of Durban to India. The cargo was valued at about R466 000.00.

“He did this fully aware that the cargo required an application to ITAC for an export permit and intentionally and unlawfully failed to apply for the export permit.”

Kara said the containers were transported from Johannesburg to the terminal at the Port of Durban for loading onto the ship.

“During inspections by the South African Revenue Service Customs and Investigations Unit, it was established that the cargo due for export contained scrap metal and that Metha did not possess the required permit.”

In a separate incident, Nagendra Kudupudi, 41, was convicted of the same offence and ordered to pay a fine of R200 000.00 in four instalments.

In February, Kudupudi, who deals in the buying and selling of scrap metal, arranged for five containers to be prepared for export from the Port of Durban to India. The steel scrap metal weighed 125 500kg and was valued at R369 750.00.