Mohun Bagan footballer AC Jose Barreto was on Thursday arrested at the NSC Bose international airport under the Customs Act after he was found carrying dollars in excess of the permissible amount under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). He was later granted bail.
Airport customs officials said Baretto neither submitted any paper to the customs authorities nor declared that he was carrying an excess amount (about 20,500 US dollar). "He may be fined on the excess amount which can also be confiscated," they said.
Even though customs sources declined to divulge details, the police said Barreto was asked to surrender his passport and directed to appear before the Court once in a week and also respond to customs' directives.
Barreto was later produced before a North 24-parganas district court at Barasat which granted him bail after he furnished a surety of Rs 10,000.
"Barreto has been arrested under the Customs Act," Commissioner of Customs Gautam Roy told PTI in Kolkata.
Customs sources earlier said Barreto, who was to leave here for Brazil via Dubai by an Emirates flight, was arrested for violations of certain provisions under FEMA. Barreto, detained at the airport since 9 am, was interrogated extensively by the airport customs officers, the sources said.
Mohun Bagan club General Secretary Anjan Mitra said the club was behind Barreto, who, he said, was not aware of the customs rules.
"His wife and two daughters had left for Brazil earlier and he got the latest salary cheque only yesterday which he was carrying with him. The maximum amount allowed under FEMA varies from time to time and even many Indians do not know the rules and Barreto is only a foreigner," Mitra said.
The top Bagan official said Barreto was innocent and hoped he would be released. Shaken by the developments, the ace footballer told club officials that it was a 'black day' for him and lamented he would not be able to meet his family for now.
Large number of people gathered to see Barreto as he was taken to the district court amidst tight security.
The 31-year-old striker, rated as one of the best foreigners-ever to have played in India, came to this country in 1999 to join Bagan.
Known for his play-making and scoring abilities, Barreto left Bagan in 2004 after spending five seasons, alleging that the club was managed by "dishonest sports administrators".
He signed for a leading Malaysian club Penang FC and was acclaimed by soccer pundits as the 'best foreign recruit' to have plied his trade in the south-east Asian nation.
Later, Barreto, born in June, 1976 rpt 1976 in Alegre, moved back to India with Mahindra United. In June 2006, he switched from Mahindra United back to Mohun Bagan for an Indian football record transfer fee.