Mumbai: It has become increasingly commonplace in the recent past for airline passengers to feign ignorance about prevailing customs laws, in the event of being discovered with undeclared valuables.
Already present in this hall of shame are Vikram Lamba, film producer and actress Mallika Sherawat's brother; actress Minissha Lamba, Goa Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate, and steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal's wife Sangeeta.
The latest man to be inducted into this ill-famed league was Steve Kean, manager of the well-known British football league Blackburn Rovers, currently owned by the Pune-based poultry group, Venky's, a subsidiary of the VH Group, which specialises in chicken meat processing.
Kean was intercepted last Saturday after the British Airways flight from London touched down at the Mumbai International Airport.
Kean was intercepted by the Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Sameer Wankhede, while he was crossing the green channel with gold jewellery worth Rs 3-4 lakh.
"Kean was nabbed at the green channel, penalised for carrying undeclared valuables, and thereafter released," said a senior customs official at the Mumbai airport, on condition of anonymity.
"At the outset, he tried to justify his actions by providing various excuses. As soon as he realised he was in trouble, he started pleading ignorance about the existing customs laws," added the officer.
A Venky's employee refused to comment on the issue. Even the Airport Customs Commissioner, PM Govande refrained from speaking to the press.
June 9, 2011: Vikram Lamba, actress Mallika Sherawat's brother, was detained by the Mumbai customs department, for carrying nearly Rs 10 lakh in British pounds, and high-end goods worth Rs 5 lakh, both undeclared, from Dubai.
May 18, 2011: Minissha Lamba, who was returning from Cannes on an Emirates plane, was intercepted by the customs officials at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for carrying undeclared diamond jewellery worth more than Rs 40 lakh. She was interrogated for almost 11 hours before being released in the early
hours the next day.
May, 2011: Sangeeta, wife of Sajjan Jindal, was fined a sum of over Rs 10 lakh, for carrying undeclared diamond jewellery and other imported valuables worth Rs 60 lakh.
April, 2011: Goa's Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate was detained at the Mumbai airport, for allegedly carrying foreign currency beyond the permissible limit.
June, 2009: Sheetal Mafatlal was arrested for carrying undeclared jewellery, the total value of which she did not disclose to the customs.