NEW DELHI - A 25-year-old Jet Airways air-hostess allegedly made eight trips to Hong Kong with illegal cash wrapped in foil before she was carrying Rs 3.24 crore in US dollars. A hawala operator who allegedly drafted her into a money-laundering network has also been arrested.
Devshi Kulshreshtha was arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence on Monday after a surprise check on a flight leaving Delhi before dawn. The directorate reportedly received a tip-off.
Around 2 am on Monday, a team entered a flight about to begin boarding for Hong Kong and checked Ms Kulshreshtha's baggage. Officials were stunned to find in a suitcase, hidden beneath shoes and cosmetics, wads of 100 dollar bills, each tightly packed in foil and cloth to dodge the x-ray. She was immediately ordered off the flight and later arrested.
Devshi Kulshreshtha was caught with Rs 3.21 crore in US dollar bills wrapped in foil. Ms Kulshreshtha allegedly told officials that she had carried 10 lakh dollars in multiple trips over the past two months. She was paid Rs one lakh for each trip, say the police. During hours of questioning, she reportedly named a hawala operator based in Delhi, Amit Malhotra.
Investigators say Amit Malhotra, 40, collected money from bullion dealers in Delhi and would try to get airline workers to take the money abroad, which was then channeled back to India in the form of gold.
Malhotra allegedly befriended Ms Kulshreshtha on a flight six months ago and convinced her to carry illegal money to Hong Kong. Around Rs 3 lakh in cash and 1,600 dollars have been found in raids at Malhotra's home in Delhi.
Ms Kulshreshtha, who trained as an air-hostess at a noted institute in Dehradun, had worked with Jet Airways for six years.
She was married a year ago to her former colleague in Jet Airways , who is now an executive with a placement company. Her father-in-law is believed to be a retired defence officer.