103 kg seized gold missing from CBI custody in Chennai, probe on

It was discovered when the gold was weighed to be handed over to a liquidator.
Gold bars
Gold bars
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The Madras High Court has ordered a probe by the Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CBCID) into the missing 103.864 kg gold out of 400.47 kg seized by the Central Bureau of Investigation from Surana Corporation Ltd and kept under lock and key. The 103.864 kg gold was found missing when it was weighed to be handed over to the liquidator of Surana Corporation. The high court order came on Friday.

The CBI, in a curious submission, told the court that the gold when it was seized several years back was weighed together and when it was to be handed over to the liquidator each item was weighed individually and hence there was a difference. According to CBI the seized gold were kept in the vaults of Surana Corporation and the keys were handed over to a special court for CBI cases.

Rejecting an objection raised by the CBI against the CBCID probe as it would bring down the prestige of the organisation, the High Court said all policemen are to be trusted and ordered the probe. The court also ordered the liquidator C Ramasubramaniam to lodge a complaint with the CBCID. 

The case dates back to 2012, when the CBI had booked a case against the officials of Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation (MMTC) for showing undue favours for Surana Corporation, a gold importer. The probe agency had raided Surana Corporation and seized 400.47 kg gold.

Later, the CBI said the seized gold was not needed for prosecuting the MMTC officials for corruption but filed another case in 2013 against Surana Corporation for violation of Foreign Trade Policy. The seized gold was transferred from 2012 case to 2013 case. Later the case was closed as there was no offence committed.

However, the CBI had petitioned the Special Court to transfer the gold to the office of Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on the ground that ownership of the metal is subject to corruption inquiry. The company sought the possession of the gold as it had taken bank loans and State Bank of India (SBI) sought the possession of the yellow metal. Banks had initiated insolvency proceedings against Surana Corporation.

The Special Court in 2017 ordered handing over of the gold to SBI and when the inventory was taken it was found that the gold weighed 296.06 only which is 103.864 kg less than the original 400.47 kg seized in 2012.

Liquidator Ramasubramaniam had approached the High Court asking for a direction to CBI to hand over the missing gold.

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