GVK official nabbed while trying to smuggle out Rs 39 lakh gold

The deputy manager of the domestic airport terminal was arrested from T2 while trying to ferry a package of smuggled gold to a recipient outside domestic terminal; he confessed this was his ninth time acting as a middleman

The first case of a terminal manager being involved in gold smuggling in Mumbai has emerged. In the wee hours of yesterday, a deputy manager of the domestic terminal was caught from Terminal 2 (T2) while trying to pass on a consignment of smuggled gold to a man waiting outside.

(Right to left) Shahbaaz Khan gave the consignment of gold to Kanumetta Jagadish Babu (37), deputy manager (facility services), GVK. Babu was supposed to deliver it to Mohsin Shaikh, who was waiting outside the domestic terminal
(Right to left) Shahbaaz Khan gave the consignment of gold to Kanumetta Jagadish Babu (37), deputy manager (facility services), GVK. Babu was supposed to deliver it to Mohsin Shaikh, who was waiting outside the domestic terminal

The manager has confessed to having successfully pulled it off eight times in the past. The nabbed manager was identified as Kanumetta Jagadish Babu (37), deputy manager (facility services), GVK.

Babu’s duty is at the domestic terminal of Mumbai airport. At around 4 am yesterday, officers of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) saw Babu at T2, the international terminal. Noticing him loitering about, officials followed him.

“Then, he brought out a package from his pocket and tried to conceal it. This confirmed our suspicions that he was doing something wrong. We approached him and asked him to show us everything in his possession.

It was then revealed that the wrapped package had gold bars,” said a CISF officer present on the spot. 14 gold bars of ten tolas each 1,624 grams in all were recovered from his person. The consignment is valued at Rs 39.58 lakh and Babu was taken in for questioning.

Experienced hand
Upon interrogation, Babu initially tried to deflect any blame and said he had been deputed to T2. He then said he was there to help someone out. Further questioning led to him confessing that he was helping clear out smuggled gold from T2.

Babu said he had received two packages from a passenger, after which CISF seized his phone and checked the last dialled number. Officials from Air Intelligence Unit, Mumbai Customs, were also notified of the developments.

Together, authorities intercepted the passenger who had delivered the package, Shahbaaz Khan. Khan had arrived from Sharjah via Air Arabia’s G9-406. Further grilling revealed that the consignment was to be delivered to one Mohsin Shaikh, who was waiting at the city side of the domestic terminal (T1); Customs officials detained Shaikh as well.

Babu was to go to T1 from T2, using the internal bus service on the airside. Babu revealed he had helped smuggle out gold from T2 eight times in the past these consignments total nearly Rs 2.5 crore. A resident of Chembur, he has been working with GVK for the last six years. Babu hails from Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, and has completed his MBA from Visakhapatnam.

The manager was to receive Rs 50,000 for clearing this package, more than his monthly salary of Rs 45,000. Babu celebrated his wedding anniversary on Thursday, and his wife recently had a baby boy on November 29.

“Usually the cut helpers get is around Rs 25,000 per kilogram of gold, but their rate has gone up in the past few days,” explained an AIU official. He further added, “This interception was a result of a well-coordinated effort between the CISF and AIU.”

“Involvement of an official at such a high level casts doubt on GVK’s handling of the airport, especially when gold smuggling is on the rise. An internal crime syndicate cannot be ruled out,” said a Mumbai Customs Officer. The official spokesperson of Mumbai International Airport Limited, a joint venture between GVK and Airport Authority of India Ltd, confirmed the incident.

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