Airport customs on Tuesday detained actor Mallika Sherawat's brother Vikram Lamba with undeclared euros and branded items cumulatively worth around Rs13 lakh.
Lamba, a producer, was detained at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at 10am after his return from London via Dubai by an Emirates flight. He had gone to attend the Cannes International Film Festival and returned after a trip to London.
Deputy commissioner of Customs Sameer Wankhede intercepted Lamba while he was crossing the green channel without declaring the foreign currency and goods. Only passengers who have nothing to declare can pass through the green channel.
On checking the four bags Lamba was carrying, customs officials found 13,000 euros (around Rs8.5 lakh), four iPads, 10 Gucci brand ladies’ sandals, handbags, men’s shoes and around 10 branded apparel items. Lamba was handed over to the air intelligence unit (AIU) of Mumbai customs late in the evening.
According to AIU officials, Lamba in his statement said he was unaware of the rules and had hence not declared the currency and goods.
When asked from where he had got so much foreign currency, he claimed to have withdrawn most of the money from a Mumbai bank, part of which had been spent by his sister (Sherawat) abroad.
Customs authorities are likely to issue a summons to Sherawat to inquire about the currency, and have booked Lamba under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and Customs Act.
AIU officials said the department would also involve the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in its investigations, as Lamba had brought a large amount of foreign currency from abroad. “We will also inform the income tax (I-T) department, as it needs to be investigated if Lamba had declared the cash in tax returns,” an AIU official said requesting anonymity.
As per customs rules, a passenger can carry foreign currency equivalent to $3,000 in cash and $7,000 in traveller’s cheques. Commissioner of customs, airport, PM Govande on Tuesday night said that Lamba had not yet been arrested.