UAE businessman Dawood behind Kerala gold smuggling racket: Ramees confesses

UAE businessman Dawood behind Kerala gold smuggling racket: Ramees confesses
KT Ramees in NIA custody. File photo

Kochi: A UAE businessman, Dawood Al Arabi, was behind the smuggling of gold through diplomatic parcels, K T Ramees, said to be the mastermind of the racket, has told investigating agencies.

Ramees mentioned ‘Dawood’ in his statements given to the Customs Department, the National Investigation Agency and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). All the three national agencies, involved in investigating various aspects of the smuggling operations, are trying to ascertain if this is a real name or if it is used to refer to someone else.

The smuggling operations came to light when Customs officials seized 30 kg of gold at the Trivandrum International Airport on July 5.

According to Ramees, Koduvally natives and people’s representatives Karat Razak and Karat Faisal were not involved in the gold smuggling, as was mentioned in the COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act) confidential report submitted by the Customs to the Centre for seeking the preventive custody of Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, the other accused in the gold smuggling case.

He said has never seen them in person, and that he only knows them through reports in TV news.

However, the other accused Sandeep Nair and his wife have alleged in their statements that ‘Ramees bhai’ carried out the smuggling operations for Karat Razak and Faisal.

Investigating officials have found out that after getting information about the diplomatic baggage containing 30 kg of gold being detained at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport on July 1, Ramees had meet Sandeep Nair and P S Sarith at a secret location in Thiruvananthapuram in the presence of his lawyer.

Ramees told Sarith that he should plead guilty if the Customs Department seized the gold and assured him that he would be rewarded for accepting the charge. He said that the maximum sentence would be one year's preventive detention and that he would use his influence in Delhi to get him released on bail after six months by paying the fine. He also told Sarith he should reveal neither his (Ramees’) Koduvalli connections at any stage nor his and Sandeep's name.

According to the statements of Sarith and Sandeep given to the investigating agencies, Ramees told them that even if they faced pressure from the inquiry team, they should only say that Dawood Al Arabi, a native of Dubai, and Faisal Fareed, a Malayalee, were the ones smuggling gold with the help of officials at the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

Ramees returned to Perinthalmanna before the detained parcel was opened and inspected by Customs officials.

According to the Customs’ report sent to the Centre, Sarith and Sandeep met at Swapna's house on the night of July 3 and decided that they would tell the truth if they were arrested.

Rabins will shed more light on smuggling activities in Dubai: Customs

The role of Rabins Hameed, who was arrested by the NIA on Monday, in the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case was first discovered by the Customs Department. Customs’ investigation had revealed his involvement within two weeks of the case being registered.

According to the initial information that Customs obtained, Faisal Fareed, a native of Guruvayur, led the operations in Dubai to conceal gold in parcels and send them to Kerala.

However, some of the arrested accused told Customs that Rabins often did the smuggling activities in the name of Faisal Fareed. This became a crucial turning point in the case.

Customs had also taken steps to bring Rabins and Faisal Fareed to India. Customs officials said Rabins would be taken into custody and questioned after he is interrogated by the NIA as he is a key suspect.

They believe that by questioning Rabins, they will be able to figure out what really happened in Dubai in the smuggling operations, who invested in the activities and who the other links are. 

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