Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, key accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, were arrested by the NIA from Bengaluru on Saturday (July 11), official sources said.
Swapna is among the four accused booked by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the smuggling of 30 kg of gold through diplomatic baggage which arrived at the Thiruvananthapuram International airport.
Swapna, Sarith, and Sandeep Nair of Thiruvananthapuram and Fazil Fareed of Ernakulam have been listed in the smuggling case as accused. The Central agencies including the NIA and the Customs had opposed her anticipatory bail plea in the Kerala High Court.
According to sources, Swapna, her husband and their children aged 19 and the eight, drove in a car to Bengaluru. Sandeep Nair was also there with family. They were put up in certain locations en route and reached Bangalore two days ago. They first stayed in a hotel in BTM Layout then shifted to Octave Hotel in Koramangala. The Bengaluru NIA team, on a tip-off, raided the hotel and arrested them. Their passports, 3 mobile phones, and ₹2.5 lakh in cash and identity cards had been recovered.
The Customs arrested one Remis from Perinthalmanna in Kerala. He is said to have connections with Sandeep Nair and his network.
NIA court to hear case
NIA took over the case on July 10 and lodged an FIR under sections 16, 17, and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. There are four accused in this case as per NIA’s FIR, namely, Sarith P.S., Swapna Prabha Suresh, Fazil Fareed, and Sandeep Nair.
According to the NIA, as the case had national and international linkages and as the initial enquiries revealed that the proceeds of smuggled gold could be used for financing of terrorism in India, it amounts to a terrorist act as stated in section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. The case pertains to ‘smuggling of large quantities of gold into India from offshore locations, threatening the economic stability and national security of the country.’
According to the NIA, the consignment was found concealed in diplomatic baggage from the UAE that is exempted from inspection as per the Vienna Convention. The said consignment was to be received by Sarith P.S. who had worked in the UAE Consulate earlier as Public Relations Officer. An initial investigation by the Customs Department had revealed that Sarith had received multiple consignments earlier as well.
They will be produced in the NIA Court in Kochi today.