A kid, woman who came for surgery and relatives who arrived to attend funeral `purchased’ huge quantity of liquor bottles.
Believe it or not, the Plus Max duty-free shop at Trivandrum International Airport had ‘sold’ 24 bottles of beer and a bottle of Foreign Made Foreign Liquor to a six-year-old. And even before your say Oh!!, there is more: a woman in pain who arrived in Trivandrum for an emergency surgery had time to buy huge quantities of beer and Foreign Made Foreign Liquor (FMFL) from the outlet. And more: some who had landed to attend the funeral of their close relative left the airport with their bags stuffed to be brim with FMFL.
Thankfully, the boy did not get the beer bottles, neither did the woman or those who attended a funeral.
But all these sales were recorded dutifully by the duty free shop maintained by Plus Max.
These sales records were part of an affidavit filed by the Customs Preventive Commissionerate before the Sessions Court at Ernakulam. The affidavit has opposed the bail plea of K Sundaravasan, CEO of Malaysian firm Plus Max Duty-Free Pvt Ltd.
While senior official Sundaravasan was arrested, Customs is trying to extradite Prakadeesh Kumar, the director of the company, who is in Malaysia. The affidavit has pegged the enormity of the fraud committed by the firm at Rs 6 crore – mainly by manipulating sales record and diverting foreign currency at Rs 2.14 crore.
On April 23, the Kochi edition of TOI had broken a story on the Customs probe into leakage of traveller data, including passport numbers, from the airlines manifest at the airport for illegal purchase of goods from the dutyfree shop.
The Customs probe found that details of 13,000 international travellers were compromised for purchases from September last year to April this year from the shop. The fraud came to light after the Customs randomly checked the travel details of those who had ‘purchased’ from the shop.
The parents of the six-year old, the woman who travelled for medical reasons and relatives who reached here for a funeral have filed cases with the police against the misuse of their passport data.