The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered three fresh cases of digital bribery against Customs officers, for allegedly fleecing passengers in the name of ‘customs duty’. With the registration of these new cases, the total number of such cases has gone up to seven.
Last month, the CBI had registered three criminal offences against customs officers and others for allegedly indulging in malpractices and fleecing money from passengers on the pretext of digital payment of ‘customs duty’. A similar offence was registered earlier this month by the CBI.
Borivali resident was intercepted by Customs Superintendent
According to the CBI, in the first case, Alok Kumar, Air Customs Superintendent, and loaders Rohit Gaikwad and Rajesh Pitale were the accused.
A complaint was received on March 1, by a Borivli resident, who said that when he flew in from Dubai to Mumbai on January 24, 2023, he was intercepted by some people in civil clothes, who introduced themselves as customs officers. They asked him about the items he had in his baggage. He told them he was carrying some jewellery and clothes.
When he was questioned about the jewellery, he told them that the jewellery was from India and he was bringing them back as his sister had refused to take it.
Passenger was threatened to pay Rs 1.70 lakh 'customs duty'
The ‘officers’ then told him he would have to pay Rs 1.70 lakh in ‘customs duty’ on the gold which he was not allowed to bring, threatening him with arrest if he failed to pay the amount.
Frightened, the man requested them to waive the duty. Several negotiations later, the ‘officers’ said the amount could be reduced to Rs 1.20 lakh and the man could pay either in cash or GPay. Having no other option, the victim agreed to pay Rs 90,000 in cash and Rs 30,000 through GPay. The customs officer also took his passport, asking him to take it back on making the payments.
Man was told receipt will be sent on WhatsApp, never arrived
When the man told one of the accused that the amount of Rs 90,000 was in his bag, the person took the bag to another area and returned with it having removed the cash from the bag. Then the man paid Rs 30,000 to the GPay number provided by the accused. He was promised a receipt for the Rs 1.20 lakh, to be sent on his WhatsApp, but it never landed.
The complaint was verified and the verification revealed that Alok Kumar, Air Customs Superintendent (ACS) was the customs officer who had demanded bribe from the complainant. On the direction of Alok Kumar, the complainant had transferred the amount of Rs 30,000 to the mobile number of Rohit Gaikwad through GPay.
Gaikwad turned out to be a loader working at the CSMI Airport, Mumbai. It was further revealed that the complainant had handed over Rs 90,000 in cash to Rajesh Pitale, another loader working at the same airport.
In two other cases, the officers took a bribe of Rs 22,500 collectively
In the second case, a Dombivli resident, who had flown in from Bangkok to Mumbai on January 22, was similarly induced to pay Rs 10,500. In this case, the probe revealed that the accused involved were Customs Superintendent Alok Kumar and loader Rohit Gaikwad.
In the third case, Surendra Kumar Meena, Superintendent, Customs, Mumbai, and Siddesh Mesteri, a loader, were booked by the CBI for allegedly extracting Rs 12,000 from a passenger who had arrived in Mumbai from Abu Dhabi on February 6.
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