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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Customs notice to Ash for cash in mail

Mumbai Customs has issued a notice to actress Aishwarya Rai in connection with the recovery of foreign currency from a postal packet addressed to her last week.

Rai is required to present herself to the New Customs House at Ballard Estate in Mumbai during this week and give her explanation, said a senior officer heading the Special Investigations and Intelligence Branch (SIIB) (Import) department.

The notice was issued by the Customs Superintendent of SIIB on Monday. A parcel, apparently sent from South Africa, containing 65,000 Euros in cash (around Rs 37 lakh) concealed in an electronics item had been intercepted on the basis of specific intelligence received by Customs Superintendent S S Shenoy. A senior Customs official said that the onus of proving the case lies on the Customs as anybody could send anything in a postal packet and the recipient need not necessarily be involved in the matter.

The officer said that after obtaining an explanation from Aishwarya, the department would trace the sender from South Africa and try to get that person’s statement.

Aishwarya could not be reached for comment. But her lawyer Girish Kulkarni said: “The envelope was addressed to her old address. We do not know the sender of the envelope. Nor have we ever met or spoken to the source of that envelope. It could be anyone doing it for mischief, to defame her or it could be just another fan.”

The recovery of the money is being investigated for violation of Section 111 M of the Customs Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

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