Cash seizures at Delhi airport jump from zero to Rs 4 crore in two months
Seizure of foreign currency at the Delhi airport had come down to zero after demonetisation. However, there has been a spike again since April with Customs officers suspecting it to be hawala money.Updated: Jun 05, 2017, 22:00 IST
Over the last two months foreign currency worth Rs 4 crore has been seized at the Delhi airport. The cash seizures had remained at zero for many months after the demonetisation on November 8. Custom officials said they have increased security again at the departure terminal seeing the spike in currency smuggling.
A senior customs officer said that till April there had been no cases of cash smuggling following demonetization. Last cash seizure, of Rs 2.77 crores, was made on October 23, 2016.
There have been at least four cases of cash seizures since April. Customs officers said they suspect that the seized money was part of hawala transactions.
“The interrogation of arrested passengers has revealed that the seized money is part of hawala channels. It is converted from Indian to foreign currency here. The agents are using carriers to smuggle money to the Gulf and Thailand. We have now increased vigil at the departure hall,” the official added.
Airport officials said that they have started collecting data of passengers departing from Delhi airport. “We feed the passenger data into the software and based on various parameters, including frequency of travel and days spent, it gives us a list of suspicious travellers. We used to do this for the arriving passengers to check smuggling. The data will be now analysed for the departing passengers also,” a customs official said.
Customs also has a dog squad to help the staff nab those carrying large amounts of cash.
On June 3, two passengers were caught with $60,000 hidden in power banks, mobile chargers and biscuit packets.
A few days before that, Customs made the biggest catch of recent time by seizing Rs 2.52 crore worth foreign currency from an Afghan national. According to Customs, the passenger, who was going to Mumbai, was intercepted at the departure hall.
“He was carrying $2,15,000 and 7,00,000 Saudi Riyals, equivalent to Rs 2.52 crore. The currency was concealed in a piece of corrugated box, wrapped in a newspaper and kept inside his handbag. Some of the currency was also concealed in the false cavity at the bottom of the bag,” a Customs official said.
Investigation revealed that the passenger had to handover the bag to another passenger, who was going to Dubai by Air India flight AI995.
On May 23, a passenger was caught with Euro and Dirham worth Rs 40 lakh concealed in his rectum.
On April 28, Customs and CISF had intercepted one international passenger who was travelling to Bangkok. Euro 18,545 and Pound Sterling 24,550 worth Rs 32 lakh were recovered from him.