One of the suspects in the Kerala gold smuggling case accused of funding terror activities
Affected Countries: india;
The multi-agency team probing the Kerala gold smuggling case says one of the accused K T Ramees is the key link in diverting proceeds of smuggling to fund anti-national activities in south India.
In the petition seeking the remand extension of Ramees, who is in the custody of the customs now, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said he seems to be the kingpin and was in constant touch with some fringe elements working against the interest of the country.
“He used to insist on the other accused making use of the situation and bringing maximum amount of gold from the middle-east. He wants to weaken financial position of the country. He was also close to many who indulged in unlawful activities and he made frequent trips to abroad,” the NIA said in the custody report.
Ramees was arrested by the customs from his house in Malappuram after the NIA detained two other accused Swapna Suresh and her accomplice Sandip Nair from their hideout in Bangaluru on July 10, five days after 30 kg gold was seized from a consignment in the name of an employee of the United Arab Emirates consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
“He made several trips to the UAE and other countries in five years. When asked about this, he said he runs a hotel in Dubai. But later, we found that it was incorrect. We have information that a good portion of the smuggling proceeds was used to fund fringe elements,” said a senior official familiar with the probe on condition of anonymity.
Customs officials said Ramees (28) was first booked in 2014 in connection with smuggling 15 kg gold through cargo in Kozhikkode. But, he later got away with fines. In 2016, the forest department had booked him for hunting a deer. But the case was hushed up later. Another case was registered against him for allegedly smuggling six rifles into the country though Kochi airport.
“We will also inquire how such a history- sheeter got away and who all helped him,” said the senior official, adding, that Ramees used to fund many political parties and indulged in social activities to dodge any suspicion. The multi-agency team headed by NIA and assisted by customs, DRI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax is also investigating the cross-link between hawala and smuggling. The investigators say the latest incident has again exposed the well-oiled network between smuggling syndicates, hawala modules and terror outfits.
Meanwhile, the NIA has summoned M Sivasankar, former principal secretary of Kerala chief minister, for questioning in Kochi. Earlier, he was grilled by customs for nine hours and by NIA for four hours. A senior IAS officer, often touted as the blue-eyed boy of the CM, he was removed from the post and later suspended after reports of his alleged association with one of the accused Swapna Suresh surfaced.
Source: Hindustan Times