Goa education minister Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate violated the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines by purchasing 25,000 traveller’s cheques in one day.
The minister and his associate were detained at the Mumbai airport on April 2 for possessing Indian and foreign currencies worth Rs23 lakh.
The minister was carrying $25,000 (Rs11.25 lakh) traveller’s cheques, 75,000 dirhams (Rs9.14 lakh) and Rs70,000 cash. The Customs found Rs1 lakh in cash and some dirhams in his personal assistant Nitin Naik’s bag.
An official from the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs said Monserrate had purchased the traveller’s cheques from a dealer in Goa about a year ago. As per rule, no dealer can sell more than 10,000 traveller’s cheques to one person on a single day.
The authorities also found that Monserrate had not surrendered the unused traveller’s cheques after six months.
As per RBI rules, if the traveller’s cheques are not used within six months of purchase, they have to be surrendered either to the RBI or the dealer they were purchased from. A resident can only retain up to $2,000 worth foreign currency or traveller’s cheques.
The Customs officials also found that Monserrate had purchased the 75,000 dirhams from an unauthorised jeweller in Goa. “The jeweller, however, denied the allegation saying that he was not an authorised dealer in foreign exchange,” an AIU official said on condition of anonymity.
Also, Monserrate and Naik had travelled to Dubai at least five times in the last one year. “We are investigating the need for so many trips to Dubai and with the same person (Naik),” the official said.