Wexford man in custody in India

By David Looby

Published 21/07/2015 | 00:00

Edwin Minihan
Edwin Minihan

The family of a Wexford businessman who was arrested for allegedly smuggling €340,000 of gold into India have said they are waiting by the phone for news about him.

Father-of-one Edwin Minihan, from New Ross, was arrested at Kochi International Airport in Kerala, South India, after arriving there from Dubai on Monday last, July 13.

Indian police allege he had 10 gold bars, valued at around €340,000 and weighing 10 kg, hidden in his jacket, waistcoat and pants pockets when he was stopped at a customs check-in the arrivals hall. Mr Minihan hails from one of the most respectable families in New Ross. The Minihans own Steele & Company which has been one of the main employers in the town for decades.

Mr Minihan, 42, works in Dubai as a sales director for Tango Telecom, a company headquartered in Limerick. It is understood he said he was in India on a business trip, however, this was disputed by his employers, who said he was not on any authorised business for the company at the time of his arrest.

Mr Minihan's mother Teresa described the situation as 'unbelievably horrific', adding that she was waiting by the phone for news of her son.

Mr Minihan's solicitor was due to speak with him on Sunday and the Minihan family are awaiting to hear from him, but there have been complications due to the language barrier.

Mr Minihan was only allowed a single one-minute phone call, to his wife Laura Kruger, with whom he has a six-year-old daughter, following his arrest.

She was in her native Germany at the time. Officials from the Irish Embassy in New Delhi were subsequently in contact with the family on Tuesday morning and a lawyer was appointed to represent Mr Minihan.

Teresa Minihan said the lawyer had said her son was in jail and that the situation was 'serious'.

Mr Minihan was found with ten 24 caret gold bars. He had visited Kochi previously and investigation was to ascertain the purpose of his visits, customs sources said.

The source linked the arrest to a gold smuggling racket between the Middle East and Kerala. Earlier this year two Indian men who were caught with around 3 kg of gold were jailed for 30 months each. Alleged involvement of a foreign national, particularly from a developed country like Ireland, in gold smuggling was a matter of 'surprise' for the customs officials. 'There used to be arrests of foreigners for alleged possession of narcotics substance. This is perhaps for the first time in the recent period a foreign national is arrested for smuggling gold,' said an official, who did not want to be named.

A thorough probe was required to find out Mr Minihan's role in gold smuggling activity, officials said. His laptop and mobile phone have been confiscated to this end. Mr Minihan has been living in Dubai for the past nine years.

He has worked for a number of telecommunications companies there and previously worked for Enterprise Ireland in Germany.

His family is well known in the New Ross area, where his father Eoin is an engineer and a director of the John F Kennedy Trust and his mother Teresa is a well known doctor.

His grandfather Andy was famously chairman of New Ross Town Council when President John F Kennedy visited in 1963. He said: 'We're in right trouble now' when the microphone didn't work seconds before US President John F Kennedy took to the stage on the quayside, but they managed to fix it in time for the momentous speech.

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