Kerala man who ran lab that issued fake COVID-19 certificates to Gulf passengers nabbed

Sanjeed Sadat, who is the son of Arma lab owner, was in quarantine when the arrest was recorded.
Accused Sanjeed Sadat
Accused Sanjeed Sadat
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The Malappuram police nabbed Sanjeed S Sadat, who ran the Kerala laboratory that swindled lakhs of money from Gulf passengers by issuing fake COVID-19 certificates. Twenty-year-old Sanjeed, who used to run Arma Laboratory at Valanchery, is the second accused in the case and the son of the lab's owner. He was nabbed by the police when he was trying to flee the country. He was arrested by the police from the Cochin International Airport on Saturday.

Sanjeed was earlier in quarantine as he had a travel history. “However, after quarantine, he was absconding and based on the lookout notice, he was nabbed from the Kochi airport when he was trying to flee the country," an official of Valanchery police station told TNM.

Arma lab is a franchise of Micro Health Lab, which is an Indian Council of Medical Research or ICMR-approved lab for COVID-19 testing. Arma Lab was shut down last month following complaints of people, especially passengers set to fly to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE government had blacklisted Micro Health Lab after it was found that it had been issuing fake coronavirus-negative certificates to COVID-19 patients. Unaware of the development, many passengers, who were travelling to UAE with the certificate from Micro Health Lab, had found themselves stranded in the airport after airlines refused to check them in due to the certificate.

Micro Health Lab is one of the four laboratories in the country that has been blacklisted by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA). In September, the Air India Express had said that DCAA asked it to reject COVID-19 certificates issued for passengers by the four laboratories, including Micro Health Lab.

Arma lab, which is its franchise, was assigned to collect samples from people and send it to Micro Health Lab for testing. However, following complaints, the police found that the lab collected samples of 2,500 people for Rs 2,750 each, but allegedly sent only 500 samples for testing and issued false certificates to the others using MHL's letterhead.

Hundreds of passengers who took the certificate issued by Arma Lab got stranded in Calicut International Airport last month after they were not allowed to board the flight. The Micro Health Lab officials had also filed a complaint with the police alleging that Arma Lab tampered with samples of 44 Malappuram natives.

According to reports, there had also been instances of the person who was issued COVID-19 test negative by Arma Lab, being contacted by the health department saying the person to be positive for coronavirus.

A co-accused, 23-year-old Muhammad Unais, who was a staff at the lab, was also arrested by the police on Saturday based on the statements of Sanjeed. The owner of the lab and Sanjeed’s father, Sunil Sadath, is still absconding. Managing Director of the firm was arrested in September.

The accused have been booked under sections 465 (punishment for forgery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code.

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