Mumbai, Jan 11 (Agencies): The CBI on Tuesday conducted searches at the offices and residences of 14 Customs officials in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune, after receiving reports that they were taking bribes from a Customs House Agent.

FIR was registered under the IPC section 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) and sections of Prevention of Corruption Act some time back against the customs officials of different
ranks ranging from Additional Commissioner to Preventive Officer, and also against Custom House Agent (CHA) Manish Sanghania.

In this connection, the searches were conducted on Tuesday at the residences and offices of the officials and CHA located at Nhava Sheva Port (Navi Mumbai), Mumbai's Ballard estate and Pune; after which many incriminating documents and other pieces of evidence were seized, said Superintendent of Police (CBI-ACB) Amitabh Thakur.

"A few months ago, it had come to our knowledge that the officials were collecting illegal gratification from Sanghania," Thakur said.

"The illegal gratification was in the form of cash, electronic gadgets like laptops, mobile phones, air-conditioners; air tickets of domestic and international travel as well as travel expenses etc," Thakur added.

The CHA, who is a "habitual bribe-giver", had availed concessions in various customs clearance matters from the bribed officials, Thakur said.

"We suspect that this resulted in evasion of taxes," he said.

Total of 38 premises were combed and many of the officials had more than one residence, he said, adding that 32 teams of CBI officials were pressed into service.

Nobody has been arrested yet, he said.

On January 8, in an unrelated case, the CBI ACB had arrested K B Mahadik, a superintendent in the Central Excise and Customs department, while taking bribe of Rs one crore from a businessman in Pune.