S'pore-based Indian jeweller in jail for smuggling diamonds in her underwear

NEW DELHI - Mrs Vihari Sheth, the managing director of Singapore-based Vihari Jewels, was denied bail over the weekend after being arrested in Mumbai for smuggling diamond-studded gold jewellery in her underwear.

Mrs Sheth's outlet is located on Orchard Road and had attracted attention last October when she showcased the 110-carat 'Yellow Dragon' diamond, valued between US$11 million (S$14 million) to US$15 million.

She is the wife of Mr Abhishek Poddar, the scion of a prominent Indian business family that runs Siyaram Silk Mills, a company with a turnover of over 10 billion rupees (S$208 million).

The 26-year-old jeweller, who comes from four generations of Indian diamond traders, was arrested last week under the Indian Customs Act for trying to smuggle in jewellery estimated to be worth 23.5 million rupees (S$490,000).

She had tried to walk through the green channel, meant for passemgers who owe no customs duties, after arriving from Singapore at the Mumbai international airport, according to India's Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

"We had specific intelligence that she would be carrying jewellery," an official said on condition of anonymity.

She faces up to seven years in jail, if found guilty.