Hyderabad: Customs, low level GMR staff in racket

Officials divert duty-free liquor by hoodwinking gullible passengers.

Hyderabad: Corupt officials of the Customs Department, and low level GMR staff have been siphoning off foreign-made liquor from the duty-free shop at RGIA and supplying it to shops in Hyderabad and other cities. Mr Akun Sabharwal, the Director of Enforcement, Excise and Prohibition, said that a few Customs officials were using their powers to inspect passengers’ passports, and using them to get foreign-made liquor from duty-free shops.

“Some low level staff of GMR, who work as passenger guides, help customs officials identify pliable passengers. The customs officials take the passports of passengers, and hand them over to the passenger guides. The passenger guides immediately swipe the passports at duty-free shops, and return them to the passengers,” he said.

The officials pick up liquor at the end of the day, based on demand from brokers and middlemen. There is a huge demand for brands lime Johnnie Walker Blue Magnum, Royal Salute Eternal Reserve, and Chivas Regal. A bottle of one of these costs anywhere between Rs 20,000 and Rs 35,000. Other brands like Ardbeg, Dewars, Glenfiddich, Jim Beam, and Kentucky Dram are also illegally diverted to the open market.

Mr Sabharwal said that raids had been conducted at six places in one night, leading to the seizure of 266 bottles of foreign-made liquor that had been procured by airport officials in a single day.

“The Telangana government is losing close to Rs 3 crore every year due to these officials. We are beefing up surveillance to curb such practices. We have identified a man in Jubilee Hills as the kingpin of the racket. Once our teams nab him, information about other gang members will also come to light,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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