Hyderabad: A spurious liquor scam busted last week by the Special Task Force of the Excise department appears to have had links with the duty free liquor scam busted by the Excise at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport a few months ago.
According to officials, the kingpin in the duty free liquor scam, Harish Singh, had his fingers deep in the spurious liquor racket as well. Singh is still on the run though most of his accomplices have been nabbed.
The shady deals of imported liquor at the airport, by misusing passport copies of unsuspecting passengers, had come out in May, after which Singh went underground. An Excise team had traced his hideout in the city a few weeks ago but he again managed to escape.
Last Saturday, a decoy operation by the STF led to the busting of the spurious foreign liquor scam, during which Mahesh Ravariya and his two accomplices, B Sharat and Srinivas, were arrested. During subsequent questioning, Ravariya revealed that Singh was involved in this scam as well.
Both Singh and Ravariya, after the airport scam was busted, were looking for other ways to make money and contacted three persons, Gansi Bhai, Suresh and Mahesh, from Mumbai and procured from them empty bottles, lids, duplicate maximum retail price (MRP) stickers and labels of imported brands like Royal Salute, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Johnnie Walker Double Black and Blue Label.
Ravariya filled these bottles with Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and sealed them before entrusting Sharat and Srinivas with the task of selling the IMFL in the guise of imported liquor.
“We had sent decoy teams posing as customers and managed to purchase a few bottles. To our surprise, the packing, sealing and labeling and MRP stickers were almost similar to original bottles,” Excise department Special Task Force (STF) Assistant Superintendent K Pavan Kumar said, adding that it was only after thorough verification that the slight variations were found.
As for Singh, Kumar said he was frequently changing his location and mobile phones.