A day after the National Investigation Agency arrested Rabins K. Hameed, a key absconder in the Kerala gold smuggling case, an NIA court here sent him to seven days’ NIA custody.
Hameed, 42, a resident of Muvattupuzha in Kerala’s Ernakulam district was nabbed by the NIA following his arrival at Kochi International Airport from Dubai on Monday.
The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kgs of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore from diplomatic baggage at Trivandrum International Airport by Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate on July 5 this year.
Investigations in the case revealed that Hameed, while in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India had conspired with the arrested accused Ramees K.T., Jalal A.M., and others, besides arranging funds and purchasing gold in Dubai for smuggling to India through diplomatic baggage.
The NIA special court at Ernakulam had issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against Hameed who is also learned to have arranged for the concealment of gold in electronics or electrical equipment and household items in the UAE for smuggling the contraband to Thiruvananthapuram through diplomatic baggage.
The NIA probe team pointed out in court that the arrested was an influential person in gold smuggling and had also invested money for procuring gold.
The court then sent him to seven-day NIA custody.
The gold smuggling case first surfaced when P.S. Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate here, was arrested by the Customs Department on July 5 when he was allegedly facilitating the smuggling of 30 kgs of gold in diplomatic baggage from Dubai to Thiruvananthapuram.
The case turned murkier when the involvement of Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE Consulate later employed with the Kerala IT Department, came to light. Her links allegedly stretched to the Chief Minister as she also had connections with M. Sivasankar, Kerala’s senior IAS official, and secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
She later revealed that Sivasankar was her mentor.
After his links with Swapna surfaced, Vijayan first removed Sivasankar as his secretary and also as state IT secretary and later suspended him from service.
While Suresh and her accomplice Sandip Nair were arrested from their hideout in Bengaluru five days later. A multi-agency team started probing the case and 30 people have been arrested so far.
Besides the NIA, ED, DRI, Customs, and Income Tax department are also part of the investigation. The ED has questioned Kerala Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel in connection with the alleged import of holy books and dry dates.