NIA arrests key absconder in Kerala gold smuggling case
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday arrested Rabins K. Hameed, a key absconder in the Kerala gold smuggling case, said the agency here.
Hameed, 42, a resident of Muvattupuzha in Kerala's Ernakulam district was held by the NIA following his arrival at Kochi International Airport from Dubai.
The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg gold worth Rs 14.82 crore on July 5 this year at Air Cargo of Trivandrum International Airport by Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Cochin, from the diplomatic baggage.
Investigations in the case revealed that Hameed, while being in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India had conspired with the arrested accused Ramees K. T., Jalal A. M. and others, besides arranging funds and purchasing gold at Dubai for smuggling to India through the diplomatic baggage.
The NIA special court at Ernakulam had issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against Hameed who is also learnt to have arranged for the concealment of gold in electronics or electrical equipment and household items in the UAE for smuggling the contraband to Thiruvananthapuram through diplomatic baggage.
Hameed will be produced before the special court tomorrow and the NIA will seek his custody.
The gold smuggling case first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs Department on July 5 when he was allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 30 kg gold in a diplomatic baggage from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram.
The case became murkier when the involvement of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate later employed with the Kerala IT Department, came to light. Her links allegedly stretched to the Chief Minister as she had links to M. Sivasankar, Kerala's senior IAS official and secretary to CM Pinarayi Vijayan.
She later revealed that Sivasankar was her mentor.
After his links with Swapna surfaced, CM Vijayan first removed Sivasankar from the post of his secretary and also the State IT secretary and later suspended him from service.
While Suresh and her accomplice Sandip Nair, were arrested from their hideout in Bengaluru five days later. A multi-agency team started probing the case and 30 people have been arrested so far.
Besides the NIA, ED, DRI, Customs and Income Tax are also part of the investigation. The ED has questioned Kerala Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel in connection with alleged import of holy books and dry dates.