NIA recovers Rs 1 crore, 982 gm gold from Swapna’s lockers

Her counsel says she received the money and gold as gift from a sheikh during her marriage;  Sandeep and Swapna remanded in judicial custody till August 21
Gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh being produced at the NIA court in Kochi on Friday | A Sanesh
Gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh being produced at the NIA court in Kochi on Friday | A Sanesh

KOCHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has recovered around Rs 1 crore in cash and 1kg of gold from lockers of Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh. However, Swapna’s counsel stated that she received the money and gold as gifts.The agency, in its remand report filed at the NIA Court on the expiry of the custody of Swapna, Sandeep Nair and Sarith P S on Friday, stated that Swapna had confessed that proceeds of the gold smuggling were kept in bank lockers and invested as deposits in various banks. 

“Accordingly, Rs 36.5 lakh of Indian currencies kept in the safe deposit locker of Swapna maintained at Federal Bank’s Statue branch in Thiruvananthapuram, Rs 64 lakh and 982.5 grams of gold ornaments kept in the safe locker maintained at the Thiruvananthapuram City branch of SBI were seized on Thursday. The place and lockers where the other proceeds of the crime have been kept/deposited by the accused are under investigation,” the report stated.

However, Swapna’s counsel said the money and gold were gifted by a sheikh during her marriage. 
The NIA will inform the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department about the seizure of currencies and gold to take necessary action in this regard. The NIA has also arraigned K T Rameez of Malappuram as an accused in the case. Rameez who allegedly masterminded the smuggling was arrested by the Customs. The NIA will seek his custody soon. 

“The accused have revealed that Rameez had insisted on smuggling gold in large quantities and maximum number of times during the lockdown period. Sandeep has also divulged the suspected unlawful activities of Rameez which adversely affect the nation’s security. The same is under investigation,” the NIA said. 
Swapna and Sandeep have revealed the role of some of the associates in the crime. “The role of the suspects in the larger conspiracy of the crime is to be investigated. They have also revealed the mode of communication used by them for conversing with the other accused and suspects. The same has to analysed and the accused have to be confronted with the findings,” the NIA stated. 

The agency sought further custody of the accused as the analysis of the seized digital materials are under way at C-DAC. Swapna and Sandeep were produced at the court on the expiry of their NIA custody for 12 days. Both were remanded to judicial custody till August 21. Swapna told the court that she was facing mental stress. The first accused, Sarith, who was produced at the court in the morning after his week-long custody, was also remanded to judicial custody till August 21. When the bail application filed Swapna was considered, the NIA sought more time stating that the Additional Solicitor General will appear for the agency. The court decided to hear the bail plea on Wednesday.

Customs records arrest of Swapna & Sandeep
The Customs on Friday recorded the arrest of Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, the accused in the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case. In the morning, the Customs team visited the NIA office and recorded the duo’s statement under Section 108 of the Customs Act. Later, it approached the NIA Court for recording their arrest. This was done in the evening, when the duo was produced by NIA before the court. The agency will now approach Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offence) for a production warrant against the two and seek their custody.  Enforcement Directorate (ED), probing the money laundering behind the smuggling incident, had recorded the arrest of Sarith, Swapna and Sandeep while they were in NIA custody. The ED had also recorded the arrest of K T Rameez, who is in Customs custody. It will now move the District Principal Sessions Court seeking their custody.

GST Intelligence unearths unaccounted gold sale
During an inspection led by State GST Intelligence Kozhikode team, unaccounted gold sale worth around Rs 30 crore was detected in a wholesale jewellery shop on Mavoor Road. The jewellery owners paid Rs 98 lakh as fine and tax. Meanwhile, State GST Joint Commissioner Intelligence, Kozhikode, Firoz K  said that the raid was a part of routine inspection and was not linked with the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case. The jewellery delivers gold to many gold showrooms in the state. 

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