DRI arrests Siyaram textile tycoon’s wife for smuggling Rs 2.35 cr gold

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wife-for-smuggling-Rs-2.35-Mumbai : Vihari Poddar, the wife of Siyaram Silk Mills director Abhishek Poddar, was arrested on Tuesday night at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji international airport while trying to smuggle gold and diamond jewellery worth Rs 2.35 crore.

Vihari Poddar is the managing director of the Singapore-based Vihari Jewels.

She was detained at the airport by officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Directorate of Vigilance while she was passing through the green channel.

The officials stumbled upon diamond-studded gold jewellery in Vihari’s luggage. She was allegedly carrying some more jewellery in her underclothes.

During her interrogation, Vihari is learnt to have confessed that she had made around 10 to 12 such trips in the past few months to smuggle gold and diamond jewellery.

Based on her confessions, the authorities have raided two of her shops in the Grand Hyatt shopping Plaza in Santracruz (E) and seized jewellery worth around Rs 4 crore. Her shops have been sealed pending inquiry.

The authorities suspect that she might have brought some of these items from abroad illegally.

In 2006, Vihari opened a store at the Far East Shopping Centre on Orchard Road, a high-profile shopping enclave and tourist hub in Singapore.

There was drama inside the courtroom when Vihari was produced before a magistrate.  She collapsed in the courtroom a few minutes before the magistrate turned up. DRI officials rushed her to a hospital.

The court has remanded her in 14-day judicial custody.

Vihari Poddar nee Sheth, was passing through the green channel without declaring diamond and gold jewellery worth Rs 2.5 crore, which she had stashed away in her luggage and underclothes.

The interception was part of a joint operation by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Directorate of Vigilance, after a tip-off.

“Vihari Sheth, who had landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport by Singapore Airlines flight (no SQ-426) around 9 pm on Tuesday, was passing through the green channel without declaring the consignment that she was carrying on her body,” a DRI official said.

An official from the DRI confirmed that Sheth had hidden portion of the consignment in her undergarments.

Based on Vihari’s confession of having made 10 such similar trips in the past,  the officials raided her shops (no F-18 and F-19) located inside the Grand Hyatt shopping plaza in Santacruz (E). In the raid, the officials recovered jewellery worth Rs 4 crore from the shops.

“The jewellery recovered from her shop has been placed under investigations. We have asked for an account of the same,” the DRI official added.

Vihari Sheth (26) married Abhishek Poddar, director of Siyaram Silk Mills on May 4, 2011.

She started Vihari Jewels six years ago after taking a loan from her father of $100,000. Sheth who is believed to be a power player in Singapore, also owns shops at the Far East Shopping Centre on Orchard Road, a high-profile shopping enclave and tourist hub in Singapore.

In 2012, her firm Vihari Jewels unveiled the 110-carat Yellow Dragon diamond at the Singapore Jewel Fest. The gem is valued at between $11-15 million.

Sheth comes from a family of diamond traders. She studied at the Gemmological Institute of America in California, US.




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