Fri, 03 Feb 2023

New Delhi [India], December 7 (ANI): Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized gold worth Rs 2.51 crore from the premises of an alleged beneficiary of Kerala's gold smuggling case in Malappuram under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, the official said on Wednesday.

The ED seized 5.058 kg of gold worth 2.52 cr and Indian currency of Rs 3.79 lakhs on December 5 from a "secret" chamber at the premises of a Malappuram-based jewellery house promoter who is also accused of getting bifacial from the Kerala gold smuggling case.

"(ED) had searched 4 premises in Kerala covering business premises of Malabar Jewellery, Malappuram, Fine Gold, Malappuram, Atlas Gold Super Markets Pvt. Ltd., Kozhikode and residential premises of Aboobacker Pazhedath, Malappuram," the ED officials said.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and the Customs department are conducting separate investigations into the racket that was unearthed with the seizure of gold worth Rs 15 crore from the "diplomatic baggage" of the UAE Consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport on July 5, 2020.

"Money laundering investigation revealed that Aboobaker Pazhedath of Malappuram is part of the Gold Smuggling syndicate headed by Sarith PS, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, under the patronage of Sivasankar, IAS and was one of the beneficiaries," ED said in a statement.

The action has been taken against Aboobacker Pazhedath, the promoter of Malabar Jewellery and Fine Gold Jewellery, both based in Malappuram in Kerala and one of the shareholders of Atlas Gold Super Markets Pvt. Ltd., Kozhikode.

The federal agency said that on examination under PMLA, Aboobacker Pazedath had admitted that 3 Kgs. of gold seized by Customs belonged to him and apart from that, he had also admitted that he had smuggled 6 Kgs. of gold in a similar manner in the past through diplomatic baggage of the UAE Consulate.

"The amount for buying the said smuggled gold was raised from his business firms viz. Malabar Jewellery, Fine Gold and Atlas Gold Super Markets Pvt. Ltd," ED further said.

The accused Sarith PS, Swapna Prabha Suresh and Sandeep Nair were arrested on July 22, 2020, by ED and were taken into ED custody from August 5-17.

On the basis of the investigation conducted, a Prosecution Complaint under section 45 of the PMLA was filed on October 6 in 2010 against Sarith PS, Swapna Prabha Suresh and Sandeep Nair.

ED had also arrested M Sivasankar, an IAS officer and then Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Kerala who was also involved in assisting the accused persons in gold smuggling and had knowingly assisted them in the projection of Proceeds of Crime as untainted property in October 2020.

Earlier, Kerala Government opposed the Enforcement Directorate's plea seeking to transfer the gold smuggling case to Karnataka and said that the probe agency's plea was to tarnish the Government of Kerala by raising baseless allegations. (ANI)

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