A woman flight attendant of Jet Airways has been arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for allegedly trying to smuggle out forex worth more than Rs 3 crore, with the agency today saying that the accused was part of a major global hawala syndicate.
The DRI officials intercepted the woman when she was on a flight to Hong Kong yesterday, the agency said in a statement.
"During examination of her checked in and hand baggage, USD 4,80,200 wrapped in aluminium foil having a market value of Rs 32 million (Rs 3.25 crore), has been recovered," it said.
During interrogation, it came to light that the woman was a carrier of a major international hawala syndicate and has carried foreign currencies many times for a Delhi-based hawala operator, it said.
The operator, identified as Amit Malhotra, is a resident of Vivek Vihar area in Delhi, a senior DRI official said.
He said Malhotra used crew members for smuggling forex.
"Malhotra would collect money from some bullion dealers in Delhi and send it via some air hostess to select foreign destinations. The money was being used for purchasing gold abroad. The gold would then be sent to India illegally," the official said.
Malhotra had befriended the Jet Airways crew six months ago during a flight to India, he said.
The DRI suspected the role of some other crew members of Jet Airways in smuggling out forex, the official said.
"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.
The DRI has recovered Rs 3.3 lakh in cash, and foreign currencies of different countries worth USD 2,500, besides several incriminating materials from Malhtora, he said.