NIA team may visit UAE as agency widens Kerala gold smuggling probe
According to an official familiar with teh developments, an NIA team’s visit to the UAE is likely to be cleared soon by the Centre.Updated: Aug 04, 2020 17:16 IST
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the sensational Kerala gold smuggling case has sought the Centre’s nod to send a team to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of the investigation, an official familiar with the probe said Tuesday.
The official said the trip may be cleared by the Union Government in a couple of days. He also said two more persons, Mohammad Shafeeq and E Sharfuddin, were arrested from north Kerala for facilitating the distribution of smuggled gold. A total of 12 people have been arrested so far in the case.
The gold smuggling racket came to light on July 5 after 30 kg of the yellow metal that was sent on an air consignment to the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram was seized at the airport by the Customs. P Sarith, who came to receive the consignment, was arrested by the Customs immediately and two other accused Swapna Suresh and Sandip Nair were arrested from their hideout in Bengaluru five days later.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s secretary M Sivasankar, a senior IAS officer, was later suspended after his alleged links with Suresh surfaced.
The Customs department, which is part of the probe headed by the NIA, has decided to question Sivasankar again because there were many discrepancies in his earlier statements, said a senior official.
He has already been questioned by the Customs and the NIA separately. There are also reports that a senior politician will also be questioned for helping some members of the smuggling racket.
When two lockers of Swapna Suresh were opened last week, investigators reportedly found Rs one crore cash and two kg gold. These lockers were in the joint name of Suresh and a chartered accountant. The latter told the investigators that he was allegedly asked by Sivasankar to help Suresh to open lockers three years ago.
Suresh reportedly gave a detailed statement to the NIA containing vital information about all financial dealings and persons involved in the smuggling, said the official. He said more people will be arrested in a couple of days.