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Kerala liquor scam: Customs to approach NIA, Intelligence Bureau

Expanding the probe into diversion of liquor by duty free shop, Plus Max, at the Trivandrum International Airport by using passenger manifest, Customs on Sunday said they would apprise the National In

Published: 23rd April 2018 01:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2018 03:56 AM   |  A+A-

Express had on Sunday published a detailed report on the fraud

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Expanding the probe into diversion of liquor by duty free shop, Plus Max, at the Trivandrum International Airport by using passenger manifest, Customs on Sunday said they would apprise the National Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau of the major national security breach allegedly committed by the company. We are not happy either with the way the Airports Authority of Indian (AAI) officers in Thiruvananthapuram handled the issue. It seems they've given much more importance to the functioning of the duty free shop than the national security breach, Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar told reporters at the Cochin International Airport Limited here. We strongly suspect the role of insiders in the whole scam.

How can a private firm get access to passenger manifest handled by airport and immigration wing. We're verifying certain details to ascertain the involvement of even our officers, said Sumit.He said Plus Max had grossly misused the details of the passengers who used the airport between September and December, 2017. They can also use the passenger details for various illegal activities. Cartons of liquor bottles have been smuggled out from the airport using each passenger's passport number. As the same firm is running duty free shops in other airports in the country, we'll take up the issue with the Home Ministry, he added.The Customs has suspended the duty free shop's licence under Section 58 (b) of Customs Act.

We've detected a duty evasion of `6 crore during our preliminary investigation, the Commissioner said, adding as per their verification, the duty free shop had fabricated records using the passenger details. They came up with a version their servers have been hacked. But we did a thorough probe with the help of government computer forensic wing and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, and found their claims were wrong. In fact, the company hid the data in servers placed in Tamil Nadu which we managed to retrieve, the Commissioner said adding the role of insiders to help the Plus Max was revealed when they found a sensitive letter of CISF Commandant in possession of the Plus Max. We dont know how the letter addressed to the AAI was in the possession of the Plus Max. A detailed probe by various agencies is required, the officer said.

Sensitive letter

Sumit Kumar said they found a sensitive letter of CISF Commandant in possession of the Plus Max.“We dont know how the letter addressed to the AAI was in their possession,” the officer said.

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