KOCHI: The Customs officials on Wednesday seized 22 kilograms of gold from a jewellery making unit in the Cochin Special Economic Zone (CSEZ). The officials seized the gold worth ` 5.71 crore, while the consultants of the company,Ashwini Gold, allegedly transported the gold out of the CSEZ for selling it to the local jewellers based in Thrissur and Kochi. The Customs Department informed that the gold imported for the units located in the CSEZ was duty-free and exclusively for re-export rather than selling in the domestic market.
The department arrested four persons in connection with the illegal gold transport. The arrested included the managing director of Ashwini Gold,Sanjay Subba Rao Nigam. They had allegedly imported the gold and diverted it for selling in the domestic market. Besides, two import-export consultants, B Jayakumar and T R Saji, and Jeeson Davis, a staff of a jewellery store in Angamaly were arrested by the Customs.
Jayakumar and Saji transported the gold out of the zone while Jeeson was assigned the task of collecting the consignment. However, the Customs nabbed them in the middle of the alleged deal. Excise Commissioner K N Raghavan told reporters that summons have already been issued to the owners of the jewelleries , who received the gold ‘clandestinely’.
“We have recorded the statements from the owner of the unit and the other accused who assisted in the clandestine transport of gold after taking them into custody. We will cancel the licence of the unit if needed. However,the Customs Department will intensify the inspection inside the CSEZ in the coming days,” he said.
The Customs officials said that the unit had imported 10.5 kilograms of gold earlier this month and gave it to two jewellers based in Thrissur. Similarly, another 10 kilograms of gold had been reportedly given earlier to another jeweller at Angamaly.
The accused were produced before the court and remanded in judicial custody till August 26. The department was represented by Additional Public Prosecutor K Biju , who appeared for Customs Special Prosecutor P C Iype. The accused who filed a bail petition before the court will be heard on Tuesday by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offenses).