BJP-linked man denies ties with YouTuber who smuggled gold in Chennai airport

GA Prithvi said that he has never met Sabir Ali, the YouTuber who smuggled gold, nor sanctioned the shop space directly.
GA Prithvi
GA Prithvi
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On Wednesday, July 3, GA Prithvi, the Managing Director of Vidvedaa PRG, the company that owns the rights to renting out space for shops at the Chennai International Airport, denied any ties with YouTuber Sabir Ali, who is the main accused in the gold smuggling case. Prithvi is connected to the top brass of the Bharatiya Janata Party and has also served as the co-convener of the party’s Tamil Nadu Youth Wing in 2010. 

In a statement, Prithvi said that he has never seen Sabir. He said, “I have not influenced the Airports Authority of India to give shop space to Airhub. I received a message from Sabir on December 25, 2023, stating that the AAI gave him my contact number and that he wants to set up a shop in the airport. I replied to him stating that the company’s marketing team will call him and I had informed the marketing team of it.” 

Prithvi also said that he has never seen Sabir and that he did not have the authority to sign brand agreements. 

Read: Chennai gold smuggling: BJP-linked man helped YouTuber set up shop in airport?

On June 27, the Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs department arrested Sabir Ali and eight others after they found one of Sabir’s employees smuggling gold in powder form. The department later found that the team had smuggled 267 Kgs of gold worth Rs 167 crore between March and June for a Sri Lankan syndicate. 

The investigation report said that during questioning, Sabir Ali confessed to Customs officials that Prithvi influenced the AAI to set up the Airhub shop in the departure area of the Chennai International Airport. 

Prithvi’s concessionaire company Vidvedaa PRG Airport Retail Trz Private Limited was incorporated in October 2023. Shortly after, the company obtained a contract for a 10,000 square feet space inside the transit area of Chennai International Airport. It was in February 2024 that he rented out a shop space to Sabir Ali’s Airhub. 

While sources close to Prithvi had told TNM that it was Prithvi’s influence within the party that allegedly helped him obtain the contract in such a short time from the Airport Authority of India (AAI), he denied the allegation. “Three companies had participated in the tender process and Vidvedaa won the tender,” he said, adding that all related documents are encrypted and available in digital format. 

He also said that he had resigned from Vidvedaa PRG on June 12, more than two weeks before Sabir Ali and his team were busted by Customs authorities. 

According to the Customs department, transit passengers smuggling gold would hand it over to Sabir and his staff at the airport washrooms, located in the transit area of the airport. The staff would then hide it in their rectums to smuggle it out of the airport and hand it over to receivers outside. 

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