New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a charge sheet against 20 people, including Sarith P. S. and Swapna Suresh for their alleged involvement in smuggling 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in a diplomatic baggage into Kerala that is known as the Kerala gold smuggling case, an official said.
AN NIA spokesperson here said that besides Swapna Suresh and Sarith P.S. the agency has named Ramees K. T., Jalal A. M., Mohammed Shafi P., Saidalavi E., Abdu P. T., Rabins Hameed, Muhammedali Ebrahim, Muhammedali, Sharafuddeen K. T., Mohammed Shafeeq A., Hamzath Abdulsalam, Samju T. M., Hamjad Ali K., Jifsal C. V., Aboobacker P., Muhammed Abdu Shameem K. V., Abdul Hameed and Shamshudeen under several sections of UAPA.
The official said that during investigation 31 other persons, who had conspired and financed gold smuggling besides facilitating the disposal of the contraband and transfer of proceeds thereof to the UAE through hawala channels, for purchasing and smuggling more gold, with the intention of threatening the economic security of India, were arraigned as accused in the case.
Till now, 21 persons have been arrested in the case by NIA, while eight accused persons are absconding.
The NIA investigation has revealed that the accused had knowingly conspired since June, 2019, raised funds and smuggled from UAE, between November, 2019 and June, 2020, around 167 Kgs of gold, through the import cargo addressed to diplomats at the Consulate General of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram.
“Significantly the main accused in this case had also planned to smuggle more gold from countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia,” the official said.
The official said that investigation against the absconding accused persons and others who had facilitated this crime is being done.
The gold smuggling case first surfaced when Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested by the Customs department on July 5 when he was allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in a diplomatic baggage from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram.
The case turned murkier when the involvement of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate who was later employed with the Kerala IT Department, came to light.
Her links allegedly stretched to M. Sivasankar, Kerala’s senior IAS official and secretary to to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Suresh later revealed that Sivasankar was her mentor.
Besides the NIA, ED, DRI, Customs and Income Tax are also part of the investigation. The ED has questioned Kerala Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel in connection with alleged import of holy books and dry dates.
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