Top Customs officer caught in gold smuggling racket

Feb 25, 2014, 07:40 IST | Neha LM Tripathi

Phone taps revealed that Abhay Chaudhary, superintendent of Customs, had allegedly colluded with smugglers, to sneak in 3 kg of gold into Mumbai from a Singapore flight

While recent reports revealed how officials of the Air Intelligence Unit busted gold smugglers and seized the precious yellow metal, one of their own has been accused of colluding with the smugglers.

Abhay Chaudhary, the superintendent of Customs, is suspected to have been involved in a bid to smuggle in three kilograms of gold via a flight that landed from Singapore. Chaudhary’s phone was tapped based on specific information, and he was found speaking to some smugglers about the gold worth Rs 90 lakh.

Abhay Chaudhary has has been in the service for more than 20 years

The flight in question was SQ 424, which left Singapore at 7.55 pm and landed Mumbai at 10.40 pm at the brand new Terminal-2. The information about the attempt was intercepted by AIU officials around 10.30 pm. The modus operandi was to leave the bars behind in the plane’s washroom, which Chaudhary would later allegedly collect.

As the flight landed, officials checked the toilet and retrieved 1.5 kg of gold. The officials also took in Chaudhary, who would allegedly have gotten a cut for letting in the gold. This news reached the smugglers, who managed to flee.

“The phone was tapped by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the officer in question was found interacting with the smugglers. However, they managed to flee as information of Chaudhary being caught was leaked to them,” said an AIU official.

Commissioner of Customs, APS Suri, said, “An enquiry is going on. The officer has been shifted from AIU duty to the headquarters at Marine Lines. Nothing can be said further.”

Chaudhary refused to respond to calls made by this newspaper. Originally from Bihar, Chaudhary has been in the service for more than 20 years. If he is found guilty, depending on the evidence, strict action will be taken against him; he may also lose his job.

Gold Hauls
13.73 kg
Amount of gold caught by AIU in the first week of the opening of T2

40 kg
Amount of gold caught by AIU in the month of February

150 kg
Quantity of gold caught by AIU in the last three months

Golden birds

According to AIU officials, most people being caught smuggling gold have been passengers arriving by the following flights

>> AI 984 and 6E 62 (Dubai-Mumbai)
>> AI 920 (Riyadh-Mumbai)
>> AI 343 (Singapore-Mumbai)
>> TG 317 (Bangkok-Mumbai)

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