Siyaram Silk Mills bahu admits to smuggling gems into India 10 times

Aug 02, 2013, 09:17 IST | Sagar Rajput and Saurabh Vaktania

Vihari Sheth, caught by Customs on Tuesday for sneaking gems in her underwear, is a member of the Poddar family that owns the textile giant; she has confessed to several such offences in the past

A day after MiD DAY reported that a Singapore-based diamond merchant was caught smuggling jewels in her underwear, it has emerged that she is the wife of textile tycoon Abhishek Poddar, director of Siyaram Silk Mills. To top that, she has confessed to resorting to such antics at least 10 times in the past.

Illustration/Amit Bandre

This paper reported yesterday that Vihari Sheth, managing director of Singapore-based Vihari Jewels, was detained on Tuesday night for passing through the green channel without declaring diamond and gold jewellery worth Rs 2.5 crore, which she had stashed away in her luggage and underclothes.

The interception was part of a joint operation by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Directorate of Vigilance, after a tip-off. The officials also carried out a search operation at her shops in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Santacruz, and recovered Rs 4 crore worth of jewels more.

Following her confessions and the seizures, DRI officials arrested Sheth on the charges of smuggling.

“Vihari Sheth, who had landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport by Singapore Airlines flight (no SQ-426) around 9 pm on Tuesday, was passing through the green channel without declaring the consignment that she was carrying on her body,” a DRI official said on the condition of anonymity.

An official from the DRI confirmed that Sheth had hidden portion of the consignment in her undergarments. During interrogations, Vihari confessed to making at least 10 international trips to smuggle gold and diamond jewellery. Based on the information, the officials raided her shops (no F-18 and F-19) located inside the Grand Hyatt shopping plaza in Santacruz (E). In the raid, the officials recovered jewellery worth Rs 4 crore from the shops.

“The jewellery recovered from her shop has been placed under investigations. We have asked for an account of the same,” the DRI official added. Sheth was produced in metropolitan magistrate’s court yesterday and remanded to judicial custody for 14 days.

Who is Vihari Sheth?
Sheth (26) tied the knot with Abhishek Poddar, director of Siyaram Silk Mills on May 4, 2011. She started Vihari Jewels six years ago after taking a loan from her father of $100,000. Sheth who is believed to be a power player in Singapore, also owns shops at the Far East Shopping Centre on Orchard Road, a high-profile shopping enclave and tourist hub in Singapore.

In 2012, her firm Vihari Jewels unveiled the 110-carat Yellow Dragon diamond at the Singapore Jewel Fest. The gem is valued at between $11-15 million. Sheth comes from a family of diamond traders. She studied at the Gemmological Institute of America in California, US.  

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