Chennai: 100 kg gold in CBI custody goes missing, HC orders probe

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For representational purpose

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Over 100 kg of gold was missing from the custody of the CBI which seized the gold in a raid. The incident came to light on Friday when the Madras High Court

Chennai: Over 100 kg of gold was missing from the custody of the CBI which seized the gold in a raid. The incident came to light on Friday when the Madras High Court directed the police to investigate the disappearance of 103 kg of gold worth Rs 43 crore from CBI custody.

The gold which is a part of 400.5 kg in the form of bars and ornaments was seized by the CBI in 2012 during the raids at Surana Corporation Ltd in Chennai. The seized gold was kept in the safes and vaults of secure enclosures of Surana under CBI's lock and seal. The CBI said that it had handed over the 72 keys of the locker to Chennai principal special court for CBI cases and no date pertaining to handing over the keys was mentioned in the documents.

Meanwhile, the CBI claimed that the gold seized all together weighed 400.5 kg but while handing over to the liquidator, appointed for a settlement of debts between Surana and SBI, it was weighed individually and that was the reason for the discrepancy.

However, the court refused to accept the report and directed the rank of SP to probe the case within six months. The liquidator then approached the high court for which the order was issued on Friday.

During the prosecution, the CBI blamed the officials of Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) of showing undue favour of Surana in importing gold and silver and eventually came to the conclusion that the seized gold did not have a bearing on corruption case and had imported the same in violation of Foreign Trade Policy. Hence, a separate case has been filed in 2013 and the CBI requested to transfer the seized gold to a fresh case. Later, the investigation was ended and the case was closed by the CBI.

In 2015, a closure report was filed by the CBI saying that there is no adequate evidence. The CBI Special Court accepted the same and directed to hand over the seized gold to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). The order was later put aside by the Madras High Court after Surana challenged a petition.

Meanwhile, the SBI moved proceedings against Surana over non-payment of dues — the firm had pending loans amounting to Rs1,160 crore — and moved the Special CBI Court seeking the seized gold.

The CBI opposed Surana's petition, supported by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Finally, in December 2019, the National Company Law Tribunal, which had been approached by the SBI, ordered that the gold be handed over for distribution to the six banks owed money by Surana. When the CBI opened the security enclosures to hand over the gold in the presence of the banks in February this year, they found the gold was short by 103.864 kg.

However, when the CBI opened the vaults in the presence of the bank representatives in February this year, the gold was found to be 103.864 kg short.

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