KOCHI: The gang involved in the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel held its first conspiracy meeting inside a car in Thiruvananthapuram in May or June 2019.
The meeting was attended by prime accused Sarith P S, Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair, and Rameez K T. According to an investigation carried out by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Sandeep and Rameez were close friends. Sandeep had smuggled gold for Rameez in 2014 via Thiruvananthapuram airport. Through Sandeep, Rameez came to know that his friend Sarith was working at the UAE Consulate.
“Initially, Rameez approached Sandeep to ask whether gold could be smuggled through the green channel using diplomats arriving at the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. Ruling that out, Sarith suggested that cargos to the consulate arrive unchecked and the route would be safe for bringing in gold. Later, Rameez came to Thiruvananthapuram and met Sandeep, Sarith and Swapna in May or June 2019. The meeting was held inside Sarith’s car in the parking area of Talwalkars gym,” an ED official said.
Rameez first offered a commission of Rs 50,000 for smuggling in one kilogram of gold. However, Swapna and Sarith did not agree and demanded $1,000 per kilogram. Similarly, Swapna insisted that an amount had to be paid to the UAE consul-general as well. Rameez settled for $1,000 per kilogram as commission including a share for the consul-general. However, the commission meant for the consul-general was shared between Swapna and Sarith as the gold was brought in without the diplomat’s knowledge.
In July 2019, two trial packages were sent through the diplomatic channel containing no gold by Rameez to test the safety of the route. Though satisfied with the result, he did not send any gold in the coming months. “Sandeep had told us that seeing no initiative from the part of Rameez, Swapna and Sarith insisted on smuggling gold in large quantities claiming that the consul-general would return by December 2019. They asked him to smuggle at least 10kg of gold in each consignment.
Thus, gold was sent four times in November 2019 and 12 times in December 2019. After that, gold was smuggled only on one occasion each in January and March 2020 before the lockdown was declared. Later, gold was brought in twice in June 2020 for which commission was paid to the diplomat who was in charge of the consulate in the absence of the consul-general who had returned to Dubai in April 2020,” the ED official said. Swapna told the other accused persons that the consul-general needed money for the construction of his house in Dubai and business activities in Germany.
Hatching a plot
The meeting was attended by prime accused Sarith P S, Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair, and Rameez K T.
Sandeep had smuggled gold for Rameez in 2014 via Thiruvananthapuram airport
Through Sandeep, Rameez came to know that his friend Sarith was working at the UAE Consulate.