In a recent development in the sensational Kerala gold smuggling case, a two-member team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has reached the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as part of the probe. The officials are expected to question key accused Faisal Fareed who is in UAE.
A top NIA official associated with the probe told IANS, "The NIA team reached Dubai last night to investigate the gold smuggling case.â The officials also added that it will collect evidence on the involvement, if any, of any Kerala officials.
The source said that the NIA team will also interrogate key accused Faisal Fareed and a couple of others who have been taken into custody by the UAE authorities.
Faisal Fareed, named as the third accused by NIA, is alleged to have helped in smuggling gold from UAE. Faisal, a Thrissur native, reportedly owns a provisional store in Dubai, which was used in packing the gold in the camouflaged diplomatic baggage.
Another accused, an Ernakulam native Rabins, named as an accused in the gold smuggling case probed by the Customs Department, is also said to be in the UAE.
It was on July 5 that the Customs Department confiscated 30 kg gold in a diplomatic baggage that came from UAE named for the Consular Officer of UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. PS Sarith, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Kerala, was first arrested by the Customs over allegations that he tried to facilitate the smuggling of gold.
Following this, Swapna Suresh, another former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram and co-accused Sandeep Nair were named in the case and were arrested by NIA officials from Bengaluru.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consular Officer Rashed Khamis Ali Musaiqri Alshemeli, who had disowned the camouflaged baggage in which the gold was smuggled, had left India weeks after the gold was confiscated.
The case has created a political storm in Kerala with key accused persons in the case being alleged to have connections with Kerala Chief Ministerâs Principal Secretary M Sivasankar. Sivasankar was subsequently ousted from the post and also from the post of IT Secretary after the allegations. Sivasankar was also quizzed multiple times by both the Customs Department and NIA regarding the case.
NIA is investigating the suspected terror links in the case. The agency suspects that the smuggled gold could have been used for funding terrorism in India.