The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dad steps in for Ash in cash case

Mumbai, Nov. 15: Krishnaraj Rai stood in for daughter Aishwarya at the customs office this evening, answering their questions about a parcel sent to her containing 23,000 euros.

“He was very cooperative. He answered all our queries and gave satisfactory replies. In fact, both (Aishwarya and her father) have been cooperative,” said A.K. Prasad, commissioner of customs (import).

The actress had earlier been given time till Sunday to appear before customs, but has now been told she can finish her shooting and come, S. Dutta Majumdar, chief customs commissioner, Mumbai, said.

After a 16.5-kg parcel from the Netherlands addressed to Aishwarya aroused suspicion, customs had sent her two notices. When no reply came, the parcel that arrived in September was opened in front of witnesses in mid-October. It was found to contain electronics items and the undeclared cash amounting to over Rs 13 lakh.

“This kind of undeclared cash consignment is an offence under the Customs Act (Section 135) and falls in the category of smuggling,” a source said.

The actress was sent another letter asking her to come and explain the contents, the source said. When no reply came, a telephone call was made on Monday to say that she should appear by the weekend, failing which court summons would be sent and if she did not comply, Aishwarya could be penalised for obstructing justice.

Accompanied by lawyer Girish Kulkarni, Krishnaraj met customs officials to tell them his daughter was shooting in Jaipur for Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodha Akbar and would cooperate with the investigation.

Till this afternoon, the actress had insisted she had not received any notices. “This is as much news to me and my family as it is to you and the rest of the world. We know nothing,” she told a television channel from Jaipur.

A statement issued by her lawyer in Mumbai said: “So far, we have not received any summons or any official communication from the customs authorities. If anything comes to us, we will fully cooperate with the authorities. There are a lot of rumours about her coming to Mumbai for questioning, but right now there are no plans of her coming to Mumbai. She is shooting in Jaipur.”

Manager Hari Singh parroted the same line: “I am unaware of any such parcel.”

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