Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Kerala gold smuggling case: 'No evidence of funding terrorism, transnational forces'

Chennai:  The National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into the high-profile gold smuggling case had gained significance over the terror financing angle. But a key accused Swapna Prabha Suresh was granted bail on Tuesday by a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court after the counsel who appeared for her, advocate Sooraj T Elenjickal argued that there is no evidence of terror funding against Swapna Suresh and hence the case does not attract provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). 

Sooraj told The New Indian Express that the NIA charge-sheet filed before a special court for NIA cases in Ernakulam against 20 accused persons in January this year failed to come out with any allegation or observation relating to terror funding. Moreover, evidence relating to the involvement of transnational forces is also lacking in the case, he said.

The Kerala High Court had earlier set aside the detention of Swapna Suresh under COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling) charges.

The charge-sheet filed by the NIA against 20 accused persons including Sarith PS, Swapna Prabha Suresh, Ramees KT, Jalal AM, Mohammed Shafi P, Saidalavi E, and Abdu PT maintained that the accused had knowingly conspired since June 2019, raised funds and smuggled from UAE, between November 2019 and June 2020, around 167 Kgs of gold, through the import cargo addressed to diplomats at the Consulate General of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram. Significantly the main accused in this case had also planned to smuggle more gold from countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia. 

The charge-sheet noted that thirty-one more persons, who had conspired and financed gold smuggling besides facilitated the disposal of the contraband and transfer of proceeds thereof to the UAE through hawala channels, for purchasing and smuggling more gold, with the intention of threatening the economic security of India, were arraigned as accused in the case. 

It may be recalled that the NIA had registered a case on July 10, 2020, against the accused under sections 16, 17, and 18 of UA (P) Act consequent to the seizure of around 30 Kg of gold worth ₹ 14.82 crores on July 5, 2020, at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport by Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Cochin, from the import cargo addressed to the Charge D’ Affaires at the Consulate General of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Thiruvananthapuram. The case is being investigated by the central agencies including the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

02/11/21 New Indian Express

To Read the News in full at Source, Click the Headline


Post a Comment