Accused conspired to destabilize country’s economy by smuggling gold: NIA


PTI, Jul 22, 2020, 8:46 AM IST

Kochi: Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair, and others had conspired together and separately at various places in the State to damage the country’s monetary stability by destabilizing the economy by smuggling a large quantity of gold from abroad, the National Investigation Agency said on Tuesday, July 21.

In a report submitted in the Special NIA Court here, the investigation agency probing the sensational Kerala gold smuggling case also said it is suspected that the accused had used the proceeds of smuggling for financing terrorism through various means.

The accused deliberately used the diplomatic baggage of UAE as a cover to transact illegal business and it may have serious repercussions in India’s diplomatic relations with the UAE government and it is prejudicial to the monetary and economic security of India as well, said the NIA which carried out custodial interrogation of Suresh and Nair.

Meanwhile, the NIA custody of Suresh and Nair was extended till July 24 by the Special Court here on Tuesday, even as prime accused Swapna Suresh moved a plea seeking bail claiming innocence.

“Suresh and another accused Sandeep Nair was brought to the special NIA court here as the eight-day custody period granted to the National Investigation Agency ended today. Considering the agency’s plea seeking an extension of their custody,” the court extended it till Friday.

In its report, the NIA said Suresh has admitted that she along with Nair, Sarith, who is a key accused arrested in the case, and other associates hatched conspiracy at different locations in Thiruvananthapuram and had received the proceeds of the crime in cash through Sarith.

“The proceeds of crime received by Suresh have been invested with various banking and non-banking channels including safe deposit lockers in banks. The details of the accounts have been collected and investigation on the disclosure is in progress,” the investigation agency said.

During the investigation, it was revealed that one Ramees K T is one of the kingpins in the case, NIA said and added it was making efforts to get the custody of Ramees, who was arrested by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate last week.

According to the NIA, Ramees, who insisted on smuggling gold in large quantities and maximum numbers during the lockdown period as the financial position of the country was weak, commanded and always moved with a group of persons.

Besides, he had contacts abroad. In her plea seeking bail, Suresh alleged that she was implicated in the crime on a wild imagination without any basis and the case was the offshoot of the political rivalry between the state and central governments, triggered by the colourful and fictitious stories aired by the media.

She claimed that there was no prima facie evidence to attract an offense under Sections 15, 16, and 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case being investigated by the NIA. Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair were arrested by the NIA from Bengaluru on July 11.

Central agencies have arrested 15 people in connection with the seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a “diplomatic baggage” at the Thiruvananthapuram Internationl airport on July 5.

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