Sunday, July 12, 2020

Kerala gold smuggling case: After NIA, ED also joins investigation

Thiruvananthapuram: After the Customs and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also joined the probe in the gold smuggling case via diplomatic channel through Thiruvananthapuram airport.

The ED’s zonal office in Kochi is learned to have opened a file (known as T1 file in the agency) and launched a preliminary inquiry into the matter, under the Section 3 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act. The agency is also set to register another case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on the basis of the FIR registered by the NIA by including the sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The Section 3 of the FEMA says that except under the rules and regulations, no person should deal in or transfer any foreign exchange or foreign security to any unauthorised person, receive otherwise through an authorised person, any payment by order or on behalf of any person resident outside India in any manner or enter into any financial transaction in the country as consideration for or in association with acquisition or creation or transfer of any asset outside the country. As per the act, the financial transaction need not be in currency alone, but can also be as payment in any other form that can be gold as well.

The preliminary inquiry will be conducted on the basis of the seizure report of the customs. As part of the probe, the agency will gather information about the crime from other agencies. The penalty under the Section 3 of the Act can be up to three times the value of violation. In this case, this could be calculated as thrice the value of the 30kg smuggled gold.

Once the PMLA kicks in, the charges will be non-bailable, and several other measures like freezing of the bank document and attachment of properties, etc. would also follow. The penalty under PMLA can also include an imprisonment up to seven years. With the ED too joining the probe, the gold smuggling case has attained high importance, and it has become evident that the Centre has given top priority to the case.
12/07/20 KP Saikiran/Times of India
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