KOCHI: Probing the seizure of 2.23kg of gold from a meat-slicing machine at the Kochi airport’s air cargo complex, the Customs Commissionerate (Preventive) suspect a film producer is the mastermind behind the gold smuggling.
The investigators are on the lookout for three accused persons -- Kalamassery resident P A Sirajuddin and Kakkanad residents K P Sirajuddin and Shabin, who is the son of Thrikkakara municipality vice-chairman A A Ibrahimkutty.
The preliminary investigation has revealed that K P Sirajuddin — a film producer who has also acted in a few Malayalam movies — played the lead role in the smuggling, a customs officer said. The customs has started a probe into the financial transactions of K P Sirajuddin who procured the gold from Dubai and concealed it in a meat-slicing machine sent to Kochi as air cargo on an Air India flight.
“K P Sirajuddin’s deals, including money invested in movies, are also under scrutiny. We suspect that money from gold smuggling was diverted to film production. A raid at his residence has helped recover crucial evidence. We also suspect he has links to hawala rackets. Having gone abroad two weeks ago, K P Sirajuddin is currently in Dubai,” the customs official said.
The investigators believe that Shabin and P A Sirajuddin were business partners, working as construction contractors who carried out government projects. They had also invested money in the restaurant business, the official pointed out.
“After Ibrahimkutty won the local body election and became the Thrikkakara municipality vice-chairman, Shabin and P A Sirajuddin entered the restaurant business. They owned the Thuruthel Enterprises. We have found that several hardware items were imported in the name of the firm. They have absconded but we have recovered their passports and steps would be initiated to impound them,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Ibrahimkutty was questioned by the customs at their Kochi office on Wednesday. After the three-hour interrogation, he claimed his son was not involved in the racket. “I see politics behind the case. Everyone knows the byelection to the Thrikkakara seat will be announced soon. But we will cooperate with the investigation,” Ibrahimkutty said.
On Saturday, the customs had arrested Nakulan, a Kakkanad resident, who had reached the air cargo complex to receive the meat-slicing machine from which the gold was seized. The agency received information about the other three accused persons after grilling him.