KOCHI: The Customs Department which began probe in two instances of foreign currencies seizure from the Nedumbassery airport suspects it to be a part of hawala transactions.
The Customs officials have extended the probe to New Delhi in connection with a similar incident from an Afghan national on Wednesday morning.
However, they ruled out common links between the two incidents.
“Some of the hawala rackets operating in New Delhi are under scanner. We suspect the money seized as part of a money-laundering activity involving the gold smuggling racket. Usually, gold smuggling gangs send money abroad via hawala. We are checking whether these currencies were sent in return of gold smuggled into the country. We are also inquiring about forex agencies through which such a huge amount of foreign currencies could be obtained,” said an official.
Customs Commissioner, Sumit Kumar said since Hawala angle is a matter under probe, nothing can be revealed now.
However, he said the Customs Intelligence unit is checking the recent trends of smuggling foreign currencies.
"We checked whether these are ad hoc cases or whether it is taking place on a regular basis. According to our intelligence unit, such smuggling might be taking place on a regular basis. It is very difficult to detect currencies smuggling," he said.
He further said that the investigation on the currency seizure from the Afghan national has commenced in New Delhi.
Another Customs officer said a new trend of smugglers preferring flights having multiple stops, had emerged.
“However, this is done to hand over the smuggled goods to different carriers. The carriers often have very little information about the smuggling kingpins. Since other agencies are also cooperating with information, we hope to crack down on people behind currency smuggling soon,” said the official.