Mumbai: Gold smuggler points Customs officials to jewellery store owner

The smuggler told officials he was to hand over 7 kg of gold — worth Rs 1.6 crore — to the jewellery merchant

A day after the Mumbai Customs caught a flier sneaking in 7 kg of gold hidden in his underwear and shoes, he pointed the investigators in the direction of a jewellery store owner.

Raj Vasant Jadhav told the officials that the gold was to be handed over to Gaurav Jain, the owner of a jewellery store
Raj Vasant Jadhav told the officials that the gold was to be handed over to Gaurav Jain, the owner of a jewellery store (right) Gaurav’s sister, Apeksha Jain, an advocate with the Customs department, said he was not involved in the crime

Officials said the jewellery merchant’s sister is an advocate with the Customs department, and her business card was also found with the accused. However, the advocate told mid-day that neither she nor her brother had any connection with the smuggling case.

On Monday, the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs arrested flier Raj Vasant Jadhav, who was travelling from Paris by Jet Airways. He was found to be carrying seven gold bars, each weighing of a kilogram. He had hidden four of them in the soles of his shoes, while the remaining three were stuffed in his underpants.

The total consignment was valued over Rs 1.6 crore. During interrogation, the accused said he was to hand over the gold to Gaurav Jain, the owner of Arihant Jewelers at Zaveri Bazaar. A body search revealed he was also carrying a visiting card belonging to Apeksha Jain, an advocate who was later ascertained to be Gaurav’s sister.

“Jadhav when investigated by the D batch of AIU, was found to possess the advocate’s visiting card. He also said that one Gaurav Jain was to receive the gold consignment. The officers thoroughly searched the city side of the terminal, but could not find Gaurav there,” said a top Customs official, alleging that he had evaded their attempts to summon him for questioning.

When mid-day contacted Apeksha Jain, she confirmed that Gaurav is her brother but denied that he had any part in the crime. “A person cannot be present in two places at one time. My brother was in the shop; if anyone has any doubts, they should give evidence of his presence at Terminal 2. Neither was he present at the airport nor is he absconding; we have submitted a letter to the Customs departments saying that he will be present for any questioning sessions he is called for.”

As for her business card being found with the accused, Apeksha said, “I am an advocate and my visiting cards are officially circulated to people at the airport. How do I know why and how he had my card?” Customs officials said they will continue to search for Gaurav.

“We have informed the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) who will help us trace the person. As of now, no one has been arrested apart from Jadhav as the case is under investigation,” said the source, adding that Jadhav had also admitted this was not his first smuggling trip.

mid-day is in possession of a copy of the remand application, which reads: ‘In his statement recorded under section 108 of Customs Act, 1962, the passenger has admitted possession, carriage, concealment, knowledge, recovery and non-declaration of the said 7 gold bars of 1 kg each.

As he was promised a payment of 300 Sterling Pounds per kg, he carried the gold for some monetary benefits. In his statement the passenger has named Mr Gaurav Jain, owner of Arihant Jewellers, Zaveri Bazar, as the receiver of the gold. Mr Gaurav Jain didn’t appear didn’t appear for statement even after issuing summons.’

Flip-flops
At first, Customs Commissioner APS Suri denied they were even looking for Gaurav. “We are looking for no such person,” he said. But when he was informed that mid-day has access to the remand application that mentions Gaurav Jain, Suri said, “Why should we disclose anything we are doing? We are tracing the person.”

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