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NIA Opposes Bail Plea of Swapna Suresh in Kerala Case; Says Over Rs 100 Crore Worth Gold Smuggled

File photo of Kerala gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh.

File photo of Kerala gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh.

NIA also submitted that Suresh had knowledge that the smuggled gold would be used for subversive activities and threaten the country's security and monetary stability.

Strongly opposing the bail plea of Kerala gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh, the NIA on Tuesday said in a special court here that she, along with four co-accused, had illegally brought in gold worth over Rs 100 crore through a diplomatic channel since last November.

In a detailed counter to the bail application moved by Suresh, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probing the sensational case also submitted that she had knowledge that the smuggled gold would be used for subversive activities and threaten the country's security and monetary stability.

"The accused A-1 to A-5 (Sarith, Suresh, Faisal Fareed, Sandeep Nair and Ramees) and others colluded and conspired to make use of this channel and smuggle gold along with the materials genuinely required by the foreign diplomats at consulate of UAE in Thiruvananthapuram. Hence, instead of sending just the materials required by Consulate staff, co-conspirators including Fareed in UAE packed gold into various materials neatly hidden and submitted the baggage to the Air Cargo authorities at UAE," the NIA said.

On earlier occasions since November 2019, when such baggage reached Thiruvananthapuram Airport, Sarith collected it and handed over to Nair who in turn had taken it to his house and other places, opened it with the help of Ramees and other associates, the agency said.

"The gold is then handed over to persons known and directed by A-5 to be used in lieu of cash for unlawful activities including funding of such activities," the NIA said and submitted that using this process, the five accused had smuggled in gold around 20 times since November 2019.

"The total quantity of gold smuggled is to the tune of approximately 200 kgs, which is worth more than Rs 100 crores," it said in the counter.

Using this process, gold was smuggled around 20 times between November 2019 and January 2020. The total quantity of smuggled is to the tune of approximately 200 kg worth more than Rs 100 crore. About $8,034, 701.5 Oman Riyals and fixed deposits receipts to the tune of around Rs 51 lakh was recovered from Suresh's bag. Cash to the tune of Rs 1 crore and gold to the tune of nearly one kg was seized from the bank locker. The total seizure worth exceeds Rs 2 crore.

The NIA counter stated, "The presence of such huge amount of US dollars besides cash and investment instruments, will substantiate the case of prosecution that they were derived through offenses committed by the accused. Swapna Suresh had never seen to have filed income tax returns till date."

The NIA said during its investigation it learnt that initial money required for obtaining gold was funded by various persons with dubious antecedents and the money was send abroad through hawala channel.

Asserting that intensive investigation was required in the case to add value to the prima-facie findings that the gold smuggled could have been so used for anti-national activities, NIA said apart from Fareed, who is currently in UAE, other persons from the foreign country were also involved in such smuggling during earlier occasions.

"The petitioner also knew about the antecedents of all the accused while she transacted with them. It is also learnt during investigation that the initial money required for obtaining gold was funded by various persons with dubious antecedents and the money was sent abroad through hawala channel. The source of gold smuggled from UAE is also under investigation," the agency said in the counter.

The NIA said there was prima facie evidence to the effect that the accused intentionally committed the act which will fall directly under Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

"It is revealed during investigation that the petitioner as well as other accused had knowledge that their act would threaten the security including economic security and affect monetary stability of India", NIA said.

The agency also submitted the case diary before the court for its consideration.

The Court adjourned the matter to Thursday. In her plea, Suresh alleged she was implicated in the crime on a wild imagination without any basis and the case was an offshoot of the "political rivalry" between the state and central governments, triggered by the colourful and fictitious stories aired by the media. She claimed there was no prima facie evidence to attract an offence under Sections 15, 16 and 17 of UAPA.

Suresh and Sandeep Nair were arrested from Bengaluru on July 11 by the NIA. So far ten people have been arrested by it in the case, which also led to the suspension of senior IAS officer M Sivasankar after allegations about his links to Suresh surfaced.

The case related to seizure of gold worth nearly Rs 15 crore from a "diplomatic baggage" at the Thiruvananthapuram International airport on July 5.

(With inputs from Neethu Reghukumar in Thiruvananthapuram)

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