Chennai customs summons Telangana minister’s son in luxury watch smuggling case

The smuggling case was booked by Customs on 5 February when two luxury watches were seized from a Hongkong-based Indian Muhammed Faherdeen Mubeen, who came to Chennai from Singapore.

ByPTI

Published Apr 07, 2024 | 12:09 PMUpdatedApr 07, 2024 | 3:07 PM

Chennai customs summons Telangana minister’s son in luxury watch smuggling case

The Chennai Customs has issued a summons to Ponguleti Harsha Reddy, the son of a Telangana minister, for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of high-end watches worth several crores of rupees, according to official documents.

Reddy was asked to appear on 4 April, but in a letter dated 3 April, he expressed his inability to show up, stating that he is recovering from dengue fever, Customs sources quoting the letter said.

However, he has agreed to appear before the department after 27 April, as per medical advice, official sources said.

Speaking to PTI, Reddy said that he had nothing to do with the case. “It is completely baseless. I am unwell right now,” said the son of

Telangana’s Revenue and Housing Minister Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy.

Also Read: Smuggled gold weighing 4.9 kg seized off Ramanathapuram coast

Hawala transaction involving luxury watches

The summons dated 28 March was sent to the office of a family-owned firm in Hyderabad in which Harsha Reddy is a director.

The smuggling case was booked by Customs on 5 February when two luxury watches—Patek Philipe 5740 and Breguet 2759—were seized from a Hongkong-based Indian Muhammed Faherdeen Mubeen, who came to Chennai from Singapore.

The original value of the watches was estimated by Customs to be ₹1.73 crore; the Patek Philipe has no dealer in India, while the Breguet is out of stock in the Indian market, an official press release by Customs said.

According to investigations by Customs, Harsha Reddy has been allegedly identified as the buyer of the watches from Mubeen through an intermediary Alokam Naveen Kumar, who was interrogated by Customs on 12 March, sources said.

During interrogation, Naveen Kumar has revealed that he acted as an intermediary between Harsha and Mubeen, a luxury watch dealer, and facilitated payments for the transaction through USDT-a form of cryptocurrency- and cash, using the hawala route, Customs sources claimed, quoting Kumar’s statements during questioning.

When contacted by PTI, Harsha Reddy categorically denied these allegations, terming them “baseless”.

In his response to the Customs summons, Harsha Reddy said that he was surprised and denied knowledge about the case, sources said.

However, he has agreed to appear before the department after 27 April, as per medical advice, official sources said.

Dismissing an anticipatory bail petition moved by Naveen Kumar, the Madras High Court in its order on 18 March said that the amount involved in the overall smuggling of luxury watches over a period might be more than ₹100 crore, based on a perusal of records.

During a review of the case by the Alandur court in Chennai, the Judicial Magistrate on 1 April directed Customs to investigate Harsha Reddy and arrest Alokam Naveen Kumar, Customs sources said.

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