The National Investigation Agency (NIA) seized a consolidated amount of Rs 1 crore and nearly one kilogram of gold from two safe deposit lockers maintained by Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the controversial gold smuggling case. The gold and money were seized on July 23, the NIA said in its report to the special court for trial of NIA cases, Ernakulam.
The NIA submitted the report seeking the judicial custody of Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, fourth accused, for further interrogation. Accordingly, the court has extended the custody of PS Sarith (first accused), Swapna and Sandeep toll August 21.
According to NIA, Swapna had revealed that she had invested the proceeds from the crime of smuggling gold into the country in safe deposit lockers in various banks. Based on the information, the NIA seized Rs 36.5 lakh from the safe deposit locker she maintained at the Federal Bank, and Rs 65 lakh and 982 grams of gold ornament at the safe deposit locker maintained at the State Bank of India (SBI).
According to Asianet, their bail pleas will be heard by the NIA court on July 29. Since NIA had sought time for the Additional Solicitor General to appear in the court the judge rescheduled the hearing for bail pleas for next week.
The Customs Department, National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing different angles now, including money laundering and suspected terrorism funding using the money from the smuggled gold.
The NIA, in its remand report, has said that the accused â€śconspired to damage the monetary stability of India by destabilising the economy by smuggling a large quantity of gold from abroadâ€ť.
The ED, meanwhile, has filed a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Sarith. They will take the suspects into custody for questioning.
Meanwhile, the NIA on Thursday questioned former IT and Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister, M Sivasankar, regarding his alleged involvement in the gold smuggling case. The suspended bureaucrat was questioned for five hours at the Police Club in Peroorkada in Thiruvananthapuram. He was released after being ordered to appear at the NIA office in Kochi on Monday. This was the second time he was being questioned by the NIA.
According to documents leaked last week, Sivasankar had received multiple calls from PS Saritha, an accused in the gold smuggling case. It was also reported that the apartment where the conspiracy regarding the gold smuggling was hatched, was allegedly booked by a former employee of the IT Department on Sivasankarâ€™s orders.
The NIA has also demanded the CCTV footage from the Kerala Secretariat. A letter was issued to the undersecretary of the Local Self Government department regarding the same on Monday.
The customs department also took statements from Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair on Friday, while they were in the custody of the NIA. Their statements were taken in order to record their arrest, according to reports.