South Asia

Four jewelers arrested for ties with Afghanistan diplomat in gold-smuggling case in India

MUMBAI, India — The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has arrested four jewelers from Mumbai in connection with a gold smuggling case involving Afghanistan’s Consul General Zakia Wardak, the Times of India reported on Wednesday.

The DRI alleges that the syndicate smuggled 300 kilograms of foreign-marked gold into India over a four-month period starting in January. An employee of the Afghan consulate is also under investigation.

The arrested jewelers have been identified as Vaibhav Thaker, 31; Sahil Shah, 36; Vinod Shah, 60, all residents of Walkeshwar in South Mumbai; and Shailesh Jain, 55, a resident of Marine Drive. The arrests followed the interception of Wardak on April 25 when she arrived from Dubai with 25 kilograms of foreign-marked gold bars worth Rs 18.60 crore.

Investigations revealed that a consulate staff member, Rafiullah Kelewal, might be connected to the smuggling syndicate. Thaker reportedly told the DRI that from January to April, Jain and his brother from J K Jewels had supplied a total of 300 kilograms of smuggled gold to customers introduced through him.

The investigation also uncovered that Wardak had visited the office of SK Shah in January, where she introduced Kelewal. It was agreed that they would supply about 200 kilograms of gold to SK Shah against cash payment. Once the gold was delivered, Sahil Shah would sell it and hand over the cash to Kelewal. Jain would then sell the gold to Thaker on a cash basis.

“Other key members of the syndicate, including Tejas Shah of SK Shah and Sons, and hawala operators, are yet to be apprehended,” a DRI officer said.