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Kerala Gold Smuggling Case:Two Key Accused Including Swapna Suresh Arrested By NIA In Bengaluru
National Investigation Agency took two people in custody, after they were accused of smuggling 30 kgs gold, that too through diplomatic channel
Bengaluru: 2 Key Accused Arrested In Kerala Gold Smuggling Case (representational image)
New Delhi: National Investigation Agency took two people in custody, after they were accused of smuggling 30 kgs gold, that too through diplomatic channel in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram.
The two accused, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair had eloped and their baggage was in the name of the UAE consulate. Customs (Preventive) Department had arrested another accused in the case named Sarith.
A complaint was registered by the NIA on Friday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The agency said that it has taken up the investigation as the case has international linkages. It added that the foremost inquiries alleged that the smuggled gold could be used for financing terrorism in India.
Ramesh Chennithala, Opposition leader in Kerala has alleged that the accused was helped by the state police.
"How can Swapna Suresh reach Bengaluru when there is a triple lockdown under way in Thiruvananthapuram city? It is evident that the police helped her," Mr Chennithala alleged.
K Surendran, the BJP state President tweeted: The gold valued at around Rs 15 crore was seized by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi. Swapna Suresh, Sarith and Sandeep Nair of Thiruvananthapuram and Fazil Fareed of Ernakulam have been listed in the smuggling case as accused.
One of the accused, Ms Suresh was an employee of the UAE consulate and also worked as a former marketing officer for a firm connected to the information technology department of Kerala. However, the Chief Minister's Office had made it clear that they had ended Ms Suresh's contract after the serious allegations surfaced.
The oposition, however, contested Swapna Suresh's linkage with the Chief Minister's Office. They had also accused them of protecting her. The allegations were turned down by the Chief Minister. This prompted the removal of IAS officer from Chief Minister's Office and replaced as IT secretary.
"From the evidence gathered so far it appears that Ms Swapna Suresh is a pivotal member of a gang engaged in smuggling of large quantities of gold to India by defrauding government agencies and customs department by using the cover of diplomatic protection and further she has conspired and actively participated to facilitate the act of smuggling," the customs department said in a report submitted to the court.
According to the customs, Ms Suresh had turned off her phone at 3:15 PM, as the officials started checking the baggage at 1 pm on July 5. Ms Suresh has been accused of eloping and allegedly avoiding summons to dodge the investigation.
The other accused, Sandeep Nair's wife gave her statement to Customs and said that her husband used to "smuggle gold with the help of Sarith and Swapna". She further added that the group would do so for other gangs as well.
"Ms Swapna would arrange papers for getting cargo of the consulate cleared from the air cargo complex," Mr Nair's wife has said.
According to the news agency ANI's reports, Customs Department's official at Aruvikkara had conducted a raid at Sandeep Nayar's home.