AN EMPLOYEE of a leading watch retailer was arrested at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for allegedly trying to smuggle two Swiss-made wristwatches worth Rs 53 lakh.
Identified as Hatim Kothari, he was intercepted by the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Customs on the intervening night of December 11 and 12 on his arrival from Hong Kong.
Officials said Kothari was an employee at the Bandra branch of Art of Time, a leading retailer of branded watches. He arrived in Mumbai from Hong Kong on a Jet Airways flight and cleared the green channel at the airport. However, a physical search revealed two men’s wristwatches of Audemars Piguet, a premium watchmaker.
“He was intercepted at Terminal 2 after he landed from Hong Kong and we have managed to recover two branded watches from him. The watches were manufactured by Audemars Piguet and are valued at Rs 52.97 lakh,” said an AIU official.
Officials added that Kothari was wearing the two wristwatches when he cleared the green channel. The AIU officials, on a tip-off, stopped him. They further said he wore both wristwatches concealed under the full sleeves of his shirt. The AIU seized the watches and booked Kothari under relevant sections of the Customs Act, 1962.
However, officials suspect that Kothari might have smuggled highly-priced wristwatches in the past in a similar manner. “Branded watches are in demand in the market; we suspect that these watches were bought at a lower price to be sold for a higher price. We are investigating the matter,” further said an official.
A representative of the Art of Time boutique said, “We would like to state that the incident does not have any involvement with our company and relates to the individual in a personal capacity.”