Enforcement Directorate has gained custody of the three prime accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case. In July of this year, the ED had filed a money laundering case in connection with the racket.
A special court in Thiruvananthapuram sent Sarith PS, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair to ED custody, officials said. Earlier, all three were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) after the case was transferred to it from Customs by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) citing national security implications.
Accused in Kerala gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh in custody (Photo Credits: PTI)
Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram along with two others, were booked for their alleged role in smuggling 30 kg of gold in the garb of diplomatic baggage that arrived at the Thiruvanathapuram International airport on July 5. It was later found that the accused had received several such packages in recent years.
During custodial interrogation, Swapna allegedly told the NIA that the proceeds of the smuggling racket were invested through various banking and non-banking channels, including safe deposits. A hawala network is already being probed in connection with the case.
Sources tell India Today that the ED will investigate if money was being laundered through gold smuggling by the accused. A PMLA which is the equivalent of an FIR for financial crimes was registered in the case in July of this year.
During the investigation, Swapna Suresh’s communication with the other accused recovered by investigators has led them to crucial information regarding the diplomatic baggage in which gold was smuggled to India and later seized by Customs on July 5. A few of the chats between the accused have been deleted and efforts are underway to retrieve the same.
Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair were arrested by the NIA from Bengaluru on July 11 whereas Sarith was arrested by Customs earlier in the same month.