In yet another case of an insider being involved in gold smuggling at the Mumbai airport, a security officer with Etihad Airways was caught receiving gold smuggled by a passenger in a cigarette packet.
The passenger admitted to having handed over gold to the security officer on four earlier occasions, said Customs officials.
This is the 18th such case where an insider has been found involved in smuggling.
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Officers of Air Intelligence Unit intercepted passenger Sunil Jagwani when he was handing over gold to Deepak Golani, who was in-charge of security for all Etihad flights operating out of Mumbai. According to officials, Jagwani carried 1,348 gm of foreign marked gold bars and cut biscuits, valued at Rs 33.08 lakh, concealed inside a cigarette packet on the Etihad 212 flight from Abu Dhabi.
“Jagwani admitted handing over gold to Golani on four earlier occasions. The same has been corroborated through WhatsApp messages, phone call records and CCTV footage and both have been arrested,” said Milind Lanjewar, Additional Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai airport.
Golani was the third senior-most official of Etihad India, drawing a salary of Rs1.5 lakh per month. “He was in a post where he should have been assisting Customs and other agencies in anti-smuggling operations and security check. However, Golani was indulging in such large-scale smuggling,” said APS Suri, Commissioner of airport Customs.
An Etihad Airways spokesperson said: “Etihad Airways adheres to all international standards for its staff and does not tolerate behaviour that contravenes international or local laws and regulations. The airline will continue to assist the authorities in their investigation of this matter.”
On April 2, employees of Sky Gourmet Flight Kitchen were caught while attempting a series of gold retrievals from flights. The accused admitted that they had smuggled gold at least 30 times in the past, said Customs officials.
In February, a Jet Airways attendant on a Dubai-Mumbai flight was caught trying to smuggle gold and diamonds worth Rs 1.06 crore at the Mumbai airport. In the same month, Customs officials caught a passenger service assistant of Celebi Nas for acting as a carrier for gold worth Rs 1.5 crore.
Till date, 147 kg of gold has been seized in this financial year.