KOCHI: When Customs officers probing the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel reached the luxurious house of Said Alavi, a financier at Vengara in Malappuram, to take him into custody, he kept his automated gates open, expecting them. Financiers like him were lured to invest in gold knowing that it was coming through the illegal channel.
Jalaal A M of Muvattupuzha and K T Rameez of Malappuram had been enticing the investors to gold smuggling for the past few years promising them big returns. According to the Customs, six financiers had invested around Rs 8 crore in the last bid to smuggle in 30kg of gold through Thiruvananthapuram airport alone, which was foiled.
“They were promised almost double the money they invested in a short period. The major investors were 60-year-old Said Alavi and 51-year-old Hamjad Ali of Kondotty. Both have big villas and own several luxurious cars. They were lured by the masterminds of the network. We suspect that the financiers invested money in gold smuggling through the same network since September last year,” a Customs officer said.
Hamjad Ali, a Gulf returnee, has been into modular kitchen business for the past two years. He has a factory in Palakkad and an office in Kochi. His Mercedes Benz car was seized by the Customs. Said Alavi is into multiple businesses in Malappuram. “Alavi’s villa was so large that we could not photograph it in one frame. Hamjad Ali told us that he had invested after borrowing money from other persons,” the officer said.
Mohammed Anwar T M of Manjeri, another investor arrested in the case, told the Customs that he is a small-scale contractor. “He invested money so that he could get construction works of the UAE Consulate office in Hyderabad. He had also borrowed money and is now worried as to how he could return the money.”
Probe into assets
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also started investigating the assets owned by the financiers and their sources of funds. It will proceed with freezing the bank accounts and attach properties of the accused persons as it has detected black money and hawala transactions behind the illegal gold business.
Foreign currency found in Sandeep’s trolley bag
Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing terrorist funding angle in the gold smuggling case found currencies of several countries, including the US dollar and UAE dirham, from the trolley bag of prime accused Sandeep Nair.
The bag was opened by the anti-terror agency at the NIA Court in Kochi on Wednesday. The total value of foreign currencies is yet to be confirmed. Interestingly, only a currency note of Rs 10 denomination was found among the other currencies. Besides, a laptop of Sandeep, gold ornaments, educational certificates and receipts were found inside the trolley bag. There were two handbags inside the trolley bags.
Small purses were found inside the handbags. Though the trolley bag belongs to Sandeep Nair, its key was seized from co-accused Swapna Suresh. NIA suspects that the currencies and ornaments inside the bag belong to Swapna. The examination of the bag at the court was videographed.