DRI probing if Indian IVF clinics got smuggled embryos from Malaysia
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) suspects that Malaysian operators of a recently busted international embryo smuggling and illegal surrogacy racket may have links to clinics in India. The agency has already traced a connection to an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) clinic in Bandra.
DRI officials had previously arrested Partheban Durai, a carrier who had arrived in Mumbai on February 15 from Malaysia. Durai had allegedly delivered embryos to the Indo Nippon IVF Clinic in Bandra, run by Dr Goral Gandhi, nine times over two months. DRI had raided Gandhi’s clinic on February 16 and seized alleged incriminating documents pertaining to smuggling of embryos.
Gandhi, who has denied all the allegations, is expected to produce herself before DRI officials on Friday for inquiry.
“Goral is innocent. The goods recovered from her clinic were not meant for her. Further, during the search, the CCTV cameras at the clinic were switched off and the DVR has been taken away,” said Gandhi’s lawyer Dr Sujay Kantawala, adding that no copy of the panchnama was given to his client.
The DRI suspects couriers may have been delivering embryos to other clinics as well. “Our officials are scanning the call history of Durai and other suspects in the case,” said a senior DRI official.
Durai claimed he was paid 450 Malaysian ringgit (Rs 7,627) for each trip to smuggle embryos.
“We are in the process of collecting more information on the racket’s kingpin operating from Malaysia. Information will be shared with our counterparts in that country,” said the official.
In Malaysia, surrogacy is prohibited under Islamic law, However, India is a hub for both, legal and illegal surrogacy.
The agency said that it is checking if hawala channels were used to send money from India to Malaysia.
The DRI has also identified an individual in Malaysia who they believe is the mastermind behind the syndicate.