A tea vendor working at the Meenambakkam airport here has landed in money laundering net after a PMLA court recently froze his assets, which include large cash deposits and 2.5 kg of gold jewellery, in connection with a bribery case.
The case dates back to 2009 when CBI conducted searches on the export and import cargo office of the Chennai airport on alleged charges of corruption in the operations of the unit involving officials of the Customs department and others.
The agency, during this operation, searched the premises of G Kumar and seized over Rs 2.32 lakh and over 180 pieces of various gold ornaments. Cash of more than Rs 3 lakh was also found in his three bank accounts in the city.
The CBI later arrested Kumar, a class V dropout, and handed over the case to Enforcement Directorate (ED) for probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The ED's probe threw up an interesting modus operandi about how Kumar, who used to work in tea shops since childhood, allegedly connived with airport and Customs officials and clobbered up illegal wealth and gold ornaments.
The probe agencies found out that Kumar who used to "distribute tea and other food items" to officials at the Meenambakkam airport terminal since 1987 had a duty pass to enter the high-security area and had become a good friend of the officials posted there over a period of time.