Customs officials bust ‘hawala racket’ at airport

Sushant Ranjan
Saturday, 2 March 2019

The officers of the Customs Department on Thursday busted a ‘hawala racket’ at the Pune airport after it intercepted two passengers carrying foreign currency worth USD 41,422 and AED 200, amounting to Rs 28 lakh.

Pune: The officers of the Customs Department on Thursday busted a ‘hawala racket’ at the Pune airport after it intercepted two passengers carrying foreign currency worth USD 41,422 and AED 200, amounting to Rs 28 lakh.
 
The persons have been identified as Mohan Patil and Sachin Machhindra Patil, both from Sangli district. They used to visit Dubai on a regular basis.

“The passengers had tickets of Dubai on Air India flight no IX 212. They hid the foreign currency under the clothes in the baggage. The currencies recovered were seized under the reasonable belief that the same was attempted to be smuggled outside India. Hence, liable for confiscation,” said a senior officer from the Customs.

“Before departing, international passengers have to clear all immigration and customs processes. When they reached us, we checked their profile and found that both were regular visitors to Dubai. When asked about the purpose of visit, they could not give any specific reason. We started checking their luggage and found the foreign currencies. Even they did not produce any document related with the currency or the purpose of their visit,” said a highly placed source from the Customs.

As per details, during the interrogation, the Customs official found that the currency had to be handed over to a third party in Dubai in exchange for a product.

In August 2017, a similar case was revealed. At that time, two passengers were held carrying USD 1,72,800 and Euros 30,000 amounting to Rs 1.29 crore under the casserole. The officials are trying to find a link. “The case is under investigation. We are also finding the link between these two cases. This time, the amount is not very high, but they were carrying foreign currency. It is linked with a hawala racket,” the sources told Sakal Times.

“The passenger can exchange foreign currency from the authorised centres like nationalised banks and foreign currency exchange centres inside the airport terminal. But a large amount of the currency raised doubts about a hawala racket,” said the source.

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