With the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence interrogating the woman flight attendant of Jet Airways, arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle out forex worth more than Rs 3 crore, the agency on Tuesday said that the accused was part of a major global hawala syndicate.
A day after the arrest of Jet Airways cabin crew member with $4,80,200 (Rs 3.21crore), DRI sleuths caught Amit Malhotra, the alleged mastermind of the international money laundering racket.
During interrogation, it was found that Malhotra had been sending large sums of foreign currency wrapper in aluminium foil in Devshi Kulshrestha's baggage for the past six months.
The DRI has recovered Rs 3.3 lakh in cash, and foreign currencies of different countries worth US $2,500, besides several incriminating materials from Malhtora.
Amit Malhotra, a resident of Delhi’s Vivek Vihar area, was in touch with some bullion dealers in Delhi, whose money was first converted into foreign currency and then sent to places like Hong Kong. The stacks of dollars were wrapped in aluminium foil and carbon sheets to dodge X-ray machines at airports.
According to a Times of India report, the DRI intercepted the lady carrier based on a tip-off late Sunday night. The team entered a Jet Airways flight which was to take off for Hong Kong at 11.30pm. The flight eventually departed around 4am after officials had searched the plane following the discovery of the money wrapped in foil. Jet Airways confirmed the arrest and said action would be taken "based on investigations and inputs from law enforcement agencies".
Malhotra had befriended the Jet Airways crew six months ago during a flight to India, a DRI official said.
The DRI suspected the role of some other crew members of Jet Airways in smuggling out forex.
“Malhotra has been illegally smuggling forex for the past over one year. There are some other crew members involved in the case. We are also trying to find out the details of bullion dealers involved in this syndicate,” he said.
Both Malhotra and the Jet Airways crew member have been arrested, the official said.
A Delhi court sent the two to two-day judicial custody.