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  /  Investing   /  The infamous: Kerala gold smuggling case

The infamous: Kerala gold smuggling case

Source: News India Express

Gold is every women’s dream but what happens when she chooses to smuggle it across countries and gets caught! What is this big smuggling case? A charge sheet was filed last month by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in politically charged Kerala, where gold smuggling scandal reveals how the key players, PS Sarith Kumar and Swapna Suresh used the seal and letter pad of Consulate General of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram for issuing forged authorization letters for smuggling gold through diplomatic cargo. The Kerala gold smuggling case pertains to smuggling of over 30 kg gold through diplomatic channel between November, 2019 and July, 2020. On Sunday, July 5, 2020, the bag was opened in the presence of a senior officer from the high commissioner’s office in Delhi and the consulate official whose name was on the luggage , to reveal the smuggled gold which weighed around 30 kg. The gold was concealed in baggage consisting of bathroom equipment. Further investigation about the decision led the initial inquiry to Swapna Suresh, an ex-UAE consulate employee and state IT department consultant. The Indian officials said that it had been the first time in history that such an outsized scale of smuggling attempt had happened under the name of a far off nation’s diplomatic office.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) took Swapna and another accused into custody from Bengaluru for allegedly trying to smuggle in 30 kg gold worth Rs 15 crore through diplomatic channels in Kerala. Amid this, a post made by Swapna was circulating on Facebook in which she threatened to expose ministers involved in the racket in case she’s harmed. The post in Malayalam translates to, “Many ministers are going to be trapped if they struggle to catch me. I have nothing to do with it.” Apart from the arrests, the NIA had in September, it was also questioned by Customs officials in Kochi after being named as a “person of interest” for allegedly illegally importing over 1,800 kg of dates and 300 tonnes of the Quran in 2017 using an equivalent diplomatic channel.

 Source: The week

What did the court say?

The investigating agencies have been claiming that proceeds of the crime was used to fund terror activities. The supreme court interpreted section 15(1)(a)(iiia) of UAPA and concluded that the Act can’t be invoked within the Kerala gold smuggling case . “We are unable to hold that smuggling of gold (in this case) will fall within section 15(1)(a),” the court said. The order said that the offence of the gold smuggling is clearly covered by provisions of the Customs Act. It said that this may not fall within the definition of terrorist activities as per Section 15 of UA(P) Act, unless evidence shows that it’s through with the intent to threaten or it’s likely to threaten the economic security or monetary stability of India.

The court further stated, “In our view, what is made an offence under Section 15(1)(a)(iiia) of UA(P) Act is causing damage to the monetary stability of India by way of production or smuggling or circulation of top quality counterfeit Indian paper money , coin or the other material relatable to currency or coin.”

In a state like Kerala, over 100 to 110 tonnes of gold worth Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crore is smuggled annually through separate routes, a source in the customs department explained. “This gold is brought by different routes including air, land, water and is then sold,” the source said. “It may be an ongoing phenomenon and weak documentation is a major explanation for this.” “When it involves detecting gold smuggled through air, it’s very difficult if it is compound gold. Even if it’s detected and caught, prosecution may be a difficult task”. The Kerala gold smuggling case has opened a can of worms of suspected “networks” allegedly involving senior state government functionaries and diplomats.

Source: TOI

Written By: Jinal S Mehta

Sources :


Hindustan Times

Economic Times

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