At least 230 kg of gold was smuggled into the country by using some employees of the United Arab Emirates diplomatic mission since July 2019, said a senior officer familiar with the probe led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into the seizure of 30 kg of the yellow metal from the Thiruvananthapuram airport on 5 July.
“At least 13 such consignments came to the country in one year and they all passed without any check due to diplomatic immunity. Some of them were heavier than the latest consignment which weighed 70 kg. We are also probing some events organised by state government departments,” the official said on Sunday.
All these consignments landed in Thiruvananthapuram.
NIA has claimed Faisal Fareed, who is one of the masterminds behind the Kerala gold smuggling case, has smuggled 230 kg of gold from Dubai through the diplomatic channel for more than 20 times.
Faisal Fareed, the prime accused in smuggling of gold using diplomatic baggage sent from UAE to its consulate official in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested by the Dubai Police last week. After three rounds of investigation, Faisal revealed that he has smuggled 230 kg of gold into Kerala.
Faisal, who has a business in the UAE is residing with his family at Al Rashidiya in Dubai, was picked up from his residence on Friday. He is expected to be handed over to India at the earliest.
The official also said that people whose names have cropped up during the questioning of the accused will be summoned.
This includes Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former secretary M Sivasankar and the government’s former IT Fellow Arun Balachandran. Last week, the Customs department had grilled Sivasankar for nine hours.
Investigators are also likely to question a state minister whose number appeared in the call list of second accused Swapna Suresh which was leaked to the media.
Meanwhile there are reports from Dubai that the third accused in the case Faisal Fareed was arrested and will be extradited soon. The NIA ad earlier requested Interpol issue a blue corner notice against him. The NIA has accused him of being a key operative in the smuggling racket. Fareed, who hails from Thrissur, reportedly runs a gym and garage in Dubai.
Investigators have also started a massive operation to trace the smuggled gold and seized 10 kg from two jewellers in Kozhikkode on Saturday, the official said.
He also said that many who were part of the smuggling syndicate came forward with voluntary disclosure. But he conceded that it was difficult to trace all smuggled gold.
In the last two days, investigators have raided two flats of Swapna Suresh and the business establishment of the third accused Sandip Nair in Thiruvananthapuram and seized many documents.
The smuggling racket has driven a wedge in the ruling coalition with the CPI, junior partner in the government, expressing serious reservations over “some deviations” in Left ideology and criticising the government’s move to hire multinational consultant agencies.
There are allegations that Swapna Suresh came to the corridors of power through some consultant agencies. The party mouthpiece ‘Janayugam’ had warned the Communist government to see through machinations of dubious agencies.