KOCHI: Every time a carrier came out with the smuggled gold without being checked by the Customs, the four inspectors got Rs 1 lakh in bribe. That is what the officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) found to their shock during the interrogation of three more inspectors who were arrested on Thursday in connection with the seizure of 11.035 kg of gold worth Rs 4.05 crore at the Kannur International Airport on August 19. For that single deal, the four officers together got richer by Rs 4 lakh as there were four carriers involved in the smuggling.
The DRI arrested Rohit Kumar Sharma and Krishan Kumar (both from New Delhi) and Sakendra Paswan from Jharkhand on Thursday, a day after arresting Rahul Pandit, the kingpin. “Pandit facilitated the gold smugglers who arrived from the Gulf every week. He used to charge Rs 1 lakh for one carrier and share the amount with the three others,” an officer said. Interestingly, Pandit was staying in an apartment in Kozhikode owned by a person who was involved in gold-smuggling activities.
“Pandit was the main person aiding the gold-smuggling gang. The four had been hand in glove with a Kozhikode-based racket which owned jewellery shops in north Kerala. Pandit used to get carriers’ details and images from the racketeers through WhatsApp and pass them to these officers. The carriers arrived at the airport when one of the arrested was present,” said an officer.
DRI to seek custody of four Customs inspectors
According to the DRI, Pandit, Rohit, Krishan and Sakendra all joined Customs in 2015. “They all belonged to the same batch. Pandit has been working at the Karipur airport for a year while the other three were deployed at the Kannur airport after its opening,” said an officer.
The DRI has arrested 16 persons so far in the case. “Investigation is still on. One of the jewellery shops in north Kerala used to collect gold from the smuggler. He too is arrested. Most people belonging to the group is now behind the bars,” said an officer. The arrested Customs officers were produced before the Additional Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) Court in Kochi and remanded. The DRI will seek custody of all four officers soon.
Meanwhile, Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar has suspended the arrested officers. “The officers who help smugglers will face disciplinary action. We’ve an internal vigilance wing to probe such incidents. Currently, we’ve placed them under suspension. An inquiry against these officers has been ordered based on which further action will be initiated,” he said.