The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has filed a charge sheet against 20 people, including Sarith PS 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 said that besides Swapna Suresh and Sarith PS the agency has named Ramees KT, Jalal AM, Mohammed Shafi P, Saidalavi E, Abdu PT, Rabins Hameed, Muhammedali Ebrahim, Muhammedali, Sharafuddeen KT, Mohammed Shafeeq A, Hamzath Abdulsalam, Samju TM, Hamjad Ali K, Jifsal CV, Aboobacker P, Muhammed Abdu Shameem KV, Abdul Hameed and Shamshudeen under several sections of UAPA.
What Has the Investigation Revealed?
The official said that during investigation, 31 other persons, who had allegedly 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 claimed that the accused had knowingly conspired since June 2019, raised funds and smuggled from UAE between November 2019 and June 2020, around 167 kg 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.
What’s the Case About?
The gold smuggling case first surfaced when Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested by the Customs department on 5 July 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 Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Suresh later said 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 KT Jaleel in connection with alleged import of holy books and dry dates.
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