Seven trips to Hong Kong were all it took for 25-year-old Jet Airways crew member Deveshi Kulshreshtha to allegedly make enough money to book a 3BHK on the Yamuna Expressway, officials said. Kulshreshtha, arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Monday, is accused of having helped launder thousands of dollars. At the time of her arrest from Delhi’s IGI Airport, she was allegedly carrying $480,200, or about Rs 3.2 crore, with her.
On Tuesday, a Delhi court sent her and alleged hawala operator Amit Malhotra (47) to two-day judicial custody.
DRI sources told The Indian Express that Kulshreshtha allegedly travelled to Hong Kong seven times after she met Malhotra, who operates a tour and travel business in Vivek Vihar, on a Hong Kong-New Delhi Jet Airways flight in August last year.
“Malhotra had a conversation with her for about two-three minutes and later met her outside IGI Airport. He struck a deal with her and told her he would pay her Re 1 for every dollar she helped launder,” sources alleged, adding that raids by DRI on Malhotra’s east Delhi home led to the recovery of Rs 3.3 lakh in Indian currency and $2,500. Investigation revealed that the woman, who got married a year ago, lived with her husband, who works with an online job portal. DRI officials alleged she had recently booked a 3 BHK flat in Noida, and had paid 30% advance payment.
“It came to light that she has two separate bank accounts. Malhotra would always give her cash, and she would deposit it in her second account, opened recently. Around Rs 2 lakh was found in her new account. Her husband told investigators he was not aware of her extra income,” sources alleged.
Sources said Kulshreshtha was, however, swindled by Malhotra, who paid her Rs 1 lakh even though she was allegedly being made to carry $480,200. She realised she had been lied to only after the DRI arrested her, a senior official said. Senior officials said they are probing if Malhotra was in touch with Delhi-based businessmen to convert black money into white.
Explaining the modus operandi, the DRI officer claimed that after fixing her commission, Kulshreshtha travelled for the first time with $50,000. “She allegedly used to wrap the money in aluminum foil so it would not be caught in the scanner. After reaching Hong Kong, someone would meet her in the hotel and collect the money,” an officer said.
Meanwhile, the accused were produced before link magistrate Ritu Singh on Tuesday. In the judicial remand application, the DRI stated that the woman had “admitted to the recovery, seizure and other incriminating facts”. “She also named number 2 (Malhotra) to be (connected) with smuggling of… foreign currency,” it said, adding that Malhotra had admitted to his involvement.