About 200 kg gold, worth over 100 crores, had been sneaked into the country from the UAE, the National Investigation Agency, one of central agencies probing the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel in Kerala, said today, while countering the bail petition of a key accused in the case.
The NIA said using the diplomatic channel process, gold was smuggled around 20 times between November 2019 and January 2020.
The probe agency said the act was intentional, and that the accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith, while working with the UAE consulate, were aware of the possibility of smuggling gold through diplomatic channel as early as June 2019 and they had intimated this to the other accused. Even after Swapna Suresh was removed from the post, she continued to involve herself for the sake of facilitating such subversive activities, according to the NIA.
"The accused colluded and conspired to make use of this channel to smuggle gold along with materials genuinely required by the foreign diplomats at UAE consulate," the probe agency said.
Among the articles seized from the accused, NIA said, were "USD 8,034, 701.5 Oman Riyals and Fixed deposits receipts to the tune of around Rs 51 lakh recovered from the bag of Swapna Suresh. Cash to the tune of about Rs 1 crore and gold to the tune of nearly one kg was seized from the bank locker. The total seizure worth exceeds Rs 2 crore."
Swapna Suresh, who had filed the bail petition, alleged she had been implicated in the crime without any basis. She also alleged the case was the offshoot of political rivalry between the state and centre.
The NIA, in its counter to the bail, has said that their deliberate acts of using the diplomatic baggage of UAE as a cover to transport the contraband has affected the friendly relations with the UAE and that they have threatened "monetary stability of India" and that it's suspected that they used the proceeds for "financing terrorism".
The NIA has also justified the use of anti-terror law UAPA against this 'intentional' crime.
"Petitioner has contacts with many influential persons in society. She is capable to move and abscond even at the time of this pandemic. There is a chance the petitioner may tamper the evidence and influencing the witnesses", the NIA said, while countering the bail petition of Swapna Suresh.
The racket was uncovered with the seizure of around 30 kg gold worth about Rs 15 crore, by the customs department at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 4. The gold was found in diplomatic baggage linked to the United Arab Emirates consulate in the state.
Sources from different investigation agencies have confirmed to NDTV that they have submitted a list of names of "people of interest" with the central government. These people, according to sources, are currently in the UAE and need to be questioned in connection to the gold smuggling case probe.