NIA arrests 'key conspirator' in Kerala gold smuggling case

Muhammed Mansoor is accused of facilitating the gold smuggling from UAE, and is the 35th accused in the case.
The gold confiscated at Thiruvananthapuram airport
The gold confiscated at Thiruvananthapuram airport
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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday, June 9, arrested Muhammed Mansoor PH, alleged to be a "key conspirator" in the sensational gold smuggling case in Kerala, an agency spokesperson told reporters. Mansoor was arrested by the NIA upon his arrival at the Calicut International Airport from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the spokesperson said.

The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg gold, worth Rs 14.82 crore, on July 5, 2020 at Air Cargo of Trivandrum International Airport by Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Kochi. The gold was seized from the baggage addressed to the Charge D' Affaires of UAE Consulate, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The NIA had registered the case on July 10, 2020 and taken up the investigation. A charge sheet was filed by the NIA against 20 accused persons in January this year.

The spokesperson said the probe in the case has revealed that Mohammed Mansoor, while being in the UAE, had conspired with the charge-sheeted accused Mohammed Shafi P and others to facilitate smuggling of gold to India, through import cargo addressed to diplomats at the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. The NIA special court in Ernakulam had issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against Mansoor. He was produced before a special court in Kochi and has been remanded in the agency custody for five days.

Mohammed Mansoor’s arrest comes over a week after the Customs Department decided to send notice to two former top UAE Consulate officials working in Thiruvananthapuram. As part of the probe, Customs will now serve a show cause notice to the two officials through the Ministry of External Affairs. The two officials will be given 30 days' time to reply to the notice, following which Customs will proceed according to the due process of law.

The gold smuggling case surfaced on July 5 last year, with the seizure of 30.24 kg of gold from diplomatic baggage meant for Rashed Khamis Ali Musaiqri Al Ashmia, the acting Consul General of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. Later, it also surfaced through the arrested accused, that gold was smuggled multiple times similarly through diplomatic baggage between November 2019 and June 2020.

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