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Dutch parcel: Aishwarya gets a reprieve, but only for now

November 21, 2006

The packet from The Netherlands which threatened to bring disrepute to Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai will be of no problem for her, at least for now. With the Customs authorities giving a clean chit to Aishwarya Rai for the time being, the star has heaved a sigh of relief.

She was questioned by the Customs sleuths for over two and half hours but she disowned the packet in her name containing Euro 23,000, which translated into close to Rs 13 lakh. The authorities have found out that the packet containing the unaccounted money was sent to Aishwarya by a man named Avineshwar. He has been identified as a Dutch national of Indian origin.

The authorities are now seeking the help of the Indian Embassy in The Netherlands. The department has also knocked at the door of the Ministry of External Affairs for initiating a probe into the issue.

As the authorities questioned Aishwarya at the Customs office at the Mumbai International Airport where she appeared after taking a break from a film shoot in Jaipur, she denied she knew its sender either personally or professionally. All through the interrogation, the star looked very tense and had to be calmed after which she was very cooperative.

Aishwarya sad she did not recognise any of the items that were sent in the packet. The sender had also enclosed a photocopy of his Dutch passport along with the parcel.

A case has been registered under the Customs Act against Avineshwar for not declaring goods sent by parcel. The penalty for the offence could get him at least three years of imprisonment.

The authorities are also looking at the possibility of someone having played a prank in order to transfer the money to India. They suspect that the name of a celebrity was being used to get a quick delivery of the articles without much checking. The parcel contained two mobile phones, a CD-ROM with some information about football's governing body FIFA in it and some photographs of Avineshwar.

It may be recalled that the parcel, sent from Rotterdam in the Netherlands and marked to the actress, arrived at the Foreign Post Office n Mumbai in September


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