Mumbai: A racket that involved smuggling foreign currency out of the country and bringing back gold purchased with the money, has been busted with the arrest of a private airline’s cabin crew member.
Rislie Agat (30), who works with Jet Airways, has smuggled in at least 60kg of gold worth Rs 15 crore in the past four to five months, alleged sources in the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI). He was arrested at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport early on Thursday while allegedly trying to smuggle US$3,90,000 (Rs 2.6 crore) to Hong Kong. Another crew member who flew into Mumbai from Delhi and handed him the money, has gone into hiding.
DRI officials said Agat was to return to Mumbai with gold purchased with the smuggled foreign currency. He had swapped his duty to be on the Hong Kong flight, said a source.
Agat, a Commerce graduate, has similarly brought in gold at least seven to eight times in the past, the sources alleged and added, “It is believed that he earned Rs 5 lakh on an average for every smuggling assignment.”
The second crew member landed at the airport from Delhi on Wednesday night at 10pm, handed over the money to Agat and left. “It appears that the money was handed over outside the airport. The flight, JW906, was to depart at 2.30am. The currency was concealed in five leather diary covers. Agat was intercepted at the customs counter when he filed the declaration form after immigration. He did not mention any foreign currency in his declaration,” said an offiical. Sources further said both the accused were not working in isolation and several others are believed to be involved in the racket.
Jet Airways, in a statement, said it was cooperating with the relevant authorities in their investigation. “Jet Airways has a zero tolerance policy towards actions of employees that contravene local or international laws. This is clearly stipulated in employee contracts and reinforced in training sessions. We take all necessary disciplinary action in accordance with company policy and procedures,” the statement said.
An official said, “The crew members exploited the fact that they are mostly not frisked unlike common passengers. Gold smuggled into the country could be taken out through any of the airports.”
Officials said in recent past, some airline employees have been similarly caught. Last year, two crew members of Virgin Atlantic were caught with 6kg of gold at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.