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Gold smuggling case: Rameez key to probe, customs zeroing in on role of ex-principal secretary to CMO

ANI | Updated: Jul 16, 2020 17:41 IST

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], July 16 (ANI): As the investigation by customs and National Investigation Agency (NIA) is progressing in the gold smuggling case, the arrest of businessman KT Rameez hailing from Malappuram could shed light on the large network of Kerala gold smuggling racket, whose long arms also reached to Chief Minister's Office through accused Swapna Suresh.
According to sources, Sandeep Nair from Thiruvananthapuram, who was arrested with Swapna by NIA, along with Rameez was active from the planning stage to its execution and they smuggled gold in a similar manner earlier as well. Rameez facilitated the selling of gold in the market once the smuggled gold arrived in Kerala.
"The role of former principal secretary to Kerala Chief Minister M Sivasankar assumes significance in this backdrop. Through Swapna, other accused Sarith and Sandeep were able to establish contact with the senior IAS officer. Mobile call records too substantiate it. Though the officer maintains that it's in his official capacity, but only a thorough probe could reveal whether he was aware of their plan or was he being used by the racket of which he was unaware of.
"Also, the three accused -- Swapna, Sarith and Sandeep met in a service apartment which was booked with the help of Sivasankar," said an official.
To prove their case, the customs will also have to establish the conspiracy angle, a reason why more than once the raid was carried out in the apartment close to Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram where Sivasankar also used to stay occasionally in one of the flats. The customs had grilled Sivasankar, also the former IT secretary for about nine hours in connection with the case. Also, his mobile phone was confiscated for collecting more scientific evidence.
Based on the interrogation of Rameez, more arrests were made by customs on Thursday of persons who were connected with the purchasing of gold. Customs arrested two persons Muhammad Anwar TM and Saidalavi E. Both hailing from Malappuram district. On Wednesday, custom had recorded the arrest of three other persons -- Jalal, Mohammed Shafi and Hamjad Ali.
The customs probe revealed that Rameez played a key role in gold trail and also was the link between Sandeep and his highly connected 'friends' -- Swapna and Sarith. Rameez had also invested in gold business through the illegal channels.
Rameez is not new to gold smuggling. He is an accused in a gold smuggling case at Kerala's Kozhikode International Airport in 2014 and also an attempt to smuggle six rifles by him was busted.
He is also an accused in a deer poaching case registered in 2014 in Walayar at Palakkad district.
According to forest officials, along with hunting, Rameez had a craze for number 700.
"His jeep was used to hunt deer and the number of it was 700. Similarly, the registration number of other vehicles he used too ended in 700. He is known to have a craze for the number that his mobile number also ended with it," a forest official told ANI.
The Forest Department on Wednesday had moved a petition at Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economics Offence) court to record the arrest of Rameez in deer hunting case.
The forest official said that they are also probing his involvement in another case registered this year in connection with hunting a deer.
"He is the fifth accused in the case registered in 2014. We got the information that like gold smuggling. He had also invested in hunting wild animals and selling skin and horns of deer. We are probing his involvement in other poaching case registered this year. We could not arrest him as he was staying in the Middle East," said the official. (ANI)