The Customs on Saturday invoked The Conservation Of Foreign Exchange And Prevention Of Smuggling Activities (COFEPOSA) Act against Sandeep Nair, the fourth accused in the gold smuggling case, much to the ire of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
A person arrested under the COFEPOSA Act can be sent behind bars for a minimum of one year.
The development came amid NIA's move to pardon Sandeep Nair in exchange for more details into the smuggling racket. According to the NIA probe team, this confession from Sandeep is crucial to trap the two main accused KT Rameez and Swapna Suresh.
NIA is concerned that the Customs' move will prevent Sandeep Nair from co-operating any further.
Meanwhile, the Customs and Enforcement Directorate have approached the NIA court seeking Sandeep's confession statement. The court will make a decision on whether to release the statement on Wednesday.
A multi-agency probe was initiated after the Customs seized 30kg gold from diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram in July.
The NIA, which took over the probe on the directive of the Union Home Ministry, said that the proceeds of smuggling could be used to fund terror activities.
Key accused P S Sarith, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair were subsequently arrested. While Sarith was arrested by the Customs, Swapna and Sandeep Nair were nabbed from Bengaluru by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).