NIA team in Dubai to question accused in Kerala gold smuggling case
Apart from Faisal Fareed, who used to send gold in the diplomatic baggage from Dubai, the two-member NIA team will question a couple of other suspects as well who have been taken into custody by the Dubai police, the officials said.Updated: Aug 10, 2020 17:22 IST
Investigating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leg of Kerala gold smuggling scandal, a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) reached Dubai on Sunday night to interrogate key accused - Faisal Fareed - and collect evidence gathered by the authorities there, people familiar with the development said.
Apart from Fareed, who used to send gold in the diplomatic baggage from Dubai, the two-member NIA team will question a couple of other suspects as well who have been taken into custody by the Dubai police, the officials said.
A senior official cited above, who didn’t wish to be named, said that Fareed’s firm was contracted in the UAE to clear and send the diplomatic baggage to India. It is also suspected that Fareed is the one who had set up a network of hawala dealers and couriers who helped in disposing of/selling the gold. He originally hails from Kerala but resides in the UAE.
The anti-terror probe agency had last month also approached the Interpol seeking a “blue notice” against Fareed. It was found that Fareed had forged the documents - seal and emblem - of the UAE embassy to ensure diplomatic protection for the baggage and the gold coming here was to be used for terror activities.
During its stay in Dubai, the NIA team will also seek details of shell companies, which were used for transferring the money, as well as hawala operators linked to gold smuggling. The UAE authorities are learnt to have conducted substantial investigation already on India’s request and are likely to hand over its findings to the NIA team.
The federal anti-terror probe agency is probing “terror angle” in the large scale smuggling of gold in Kerala.
Apart from Faisal Fareed and Swapna Suresh, NIA has identified K T Ramees as the mastermind of the whole racket. Ramees is currently in judicial custody.
Last week, it had arrested Muhammad Ali, a Popular Front of India (PFI) member. The outfit, however, denied Ali being associated with it.
In all, NIA has arrested 10 accused in the case so far, including Swapna Suresh, who helped in air consignment of UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram in which 30 kg gold was recovered last month.
The agency had informed a court last week that prime accused Swapna Suresh had a strong connection with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office.
A larger terror conspiracy is being probed by multiple agencies – NIA, ED and Customs.
The NIA had said earlier that “the accused persons had conspired to damage the monetary stability of India by destabilising the economy by smuggling large quantity of gold from abroad and it is suspected that they had used these proceeds of smuggling for financing terrorism through various means”.
It has further claimed that “using diplomatic baggage of UAE as a cover to transact illegal business may have serious repercussions in the diplomatic relations with the government of UAE and it is prejudicial to the monetary and economic security of India as well.”