Multiple locations raided in gold smuggling case
The opposition parties in the state slammed the Left Democratic Front government in the state. The BJP said that the chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was taking anticipatory bail since the probe reached his doors.Updated: Jul 19, 2020 02:19 IST
The multi- agency team probing the Kerala gold smuggling case on Saturday raided multiple locations in the state and detained many for questioning, a senior officer familiar with the probe said on Saturday, adding the scope of the inquiry will be widened.
“Without strong patronage such a thriving syndicate can’t function in the state. Our inquiry will cover terror angle, hawala and political and bureaucratic patronage also. This time we will get to the bottom of the racket,” said the official.
The opposition parties in the state slammed the Left Democratic Front government in the state. The BJP said that the chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was taking anticipatory bail since the probe reached his doors. “Role of two high-ranking officials in the CM’s office, his former secretary M Sivasankar and former IT fellow Arun Balachandran, are out. Now the CM can’t wash off his hands,” said Bharatiya Janata Party state president K Surendran. The state government suspended Sivasankar and Balachandran was also removed from his post as CM’s IT fellow earlier this week.
Kerala Congress chief Mullapally Ramachandran also said, “Since powerful aides have gone it time for him to follow.”
Facing heat from the opposition parties over the case, Vijayan said, “We have nothing to fear. Let the guilty be punished. Some people are in a race to arrive at a conclusion but their designs will be short-lived,” adding that there was a concerted bid to tarnish the image of the state government.
The customs had seized 30 kg gold from a baggage addressed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. On July 10, the probe was handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and many other central agencies are assisting it. It filed a First Information Report against four-- P Sarith Kumar , Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nairand Fazil Fareed, an alleged smuggler from Ernakulum but based in the UAE . On July 15, it added one more name to the FIR: an alleged gold smuggler named KT Ramees.
The NIA has so far arrestedfour people -- Kumar, Suresh, Nair and Ramees-- under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act while the customs department has arrested 10 persons , the official said adding Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Enforcement Directorate, Intelligence Bureau and Income Tax are part of the ongoing investigation.
The NIA on Saturday requested Interpol to issue a blue corner notice against Faisal Fareed, another accused in the high-profile case.
Meanwhile, a magistrate took the statement of the gunman of the UAE consulate who was found with his wrist slashed on Friday. But the customs suspect that his suicide bid was aimed at covering up his alleged link with the gold smuggling racket. A senior official of the customs said he will be questioned after his discharge from the hospital and his bank accounts and other details are under scrutiny now.
He was working at the consular office for last three years and before this he was posted at the immigration department in Thiruvananthapuram airport. In the leaked call details of Swapna Suresh, second accused in the case, there were many calls to him.
The state police had filed a cheating case against Suresh, PricewaterHouseCoopers (PwC) and a placement agency Vision Technology on July 13. During investigation it was found that Suresh had produced a fake degree certificate to secure at job at the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited, a state government undertaking. PwC and Vision Technology were authorised agencies responsible for verifying her educational documents, said the police. The case was registered under IPC sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) 465 forgery and 471 (using as genuine a forged document).
When the case surfaced the PwC had distanced itself from Swapna Suresh’s appointment saying that they were no way related to her appointment.
(With inputs from agencies)