A group of four US lawmakers has requested Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to ensure the return of Tennessee pastor Bryan Nerren who was arrested in India last year on charges of travelling with $40,000 of undeclared currency. Senators James Lankford, Marsha Blackburn and Congressmen Scott DesJarlais and Jody Hice, in a letter to Shringla, said Bryan Nerren was arrested in West Bengal’s Bagdogra in October, 2019 and charged with violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act for travelling with $40,000 of undeclared currency.
On October 11, he was released on bail. His passport was seized in order to ensure appearance at court hearings – all of which he has attended, the lawmakers said.
“We write to bring your attention to the case of Bryan Kevin Nerren Sr of Shelbyville, Tennessee. We are immediately concerned with the health of the Nerren family, including Nerren’s daughter with special needs, who has been hospitalised with pneumonia as Nerren remains in India without a clear point of return,” the Congressmen wrote in the letter.
“We request that India uphold their end of the offer, as Nerren has upheld his, by finalising the compounding of the offence and allowing him to return to his family,” they said.
“The US-India relationship is a vital and healthy one, as exhibited by President (Donald) Trump’s recent visit to Delhi. We do not wish for bureaucratic posturing in this case – which can now be simply closed according to Indian law – to become an impediment in that relationship. Thank you for your attention to this matter,” the letter said.
On December 31, 2019, Indian Customs issued a show cause order confiscating the $40,000 and imposing a penalty of Rs 3 lakh (roughly $4,000). As of January 2 this year, Bryan Nerren had surrendered the entire amount and paid the fine, the letter said, adding that most recently, he accepted an offer to compound his offence.
He submitted an application for compounding, filed an affidavit with the court indicating submission of the application, and compiled $7,000 to be transferred to Customs upon Customs” finalization of the appropriate paperwork.
He has completed all of these required actions. “However, Customs is now requiring the submission of a waiver of forfeiture for the money lost, a request that was not included in the original conditions – and to our knowledge is not required by Indian law,” the letter said.
“Following nearly five months of court dates, provision of additional documents and requirements beyond the original conditions of Nerren’s arrest, Nerren remains in Siliguri, India,” they wrote.