New Delhi/Kochi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday arrested P H Muhammed Mansoor, alleged to be a "key conspirator" in the gold smuggling case pertaining to the seizure of the yellow metal from a baggage addressed to an embassy official in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Mansoor was arrested by the NIA upon his arrival at the Calicut International Airport from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the agency spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the probe in the case has revealed that Mohammed Mansoor while being in the UAE had conspired with the charge-sheeted accused Mohammed Shafi and others to facilitate smuggling of gold to India, through import cargo addressed to diplomats at the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.
The NIA special court in Ernakulam had issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against Mansoor.
He was produced before a special court in Kochi and has been remanded in the agency custody for five days.
The case pertains to the seizure of 30 kg gold, worth Rs 14.82 crore, on July 5, 2020 at Air Cargo of Trivandrum International Airport by Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Cochin, from the baggage addressed to the Charge D' Affaires of UAE Consulate, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
The NIA had registered the case on July 10, 2020 and taken up the investigation. A charge sheet has been filed by the NIA against 20 accused persons in January this year.
The accused, including P S Sarith, Swapna Suresh, Faisal Fareed and Sandeep Nair, were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Swapna Suresh and Sarith were former employees of the UAE consulate and they allegedly used their past connection to smuggle gold using the diplomatic channel.
The other accused in case include Ramees K T, Jalal A M, Saidalavi E, Abdu P T, Rabins Hameed, Muhammedali Ebrahim, Muhammedali, Sharafuddeen K T, Mohammed Shafeeq A, Hamzath Abdulsalam, Samju T M, Hamjad Ali K, Jifsal C V, Aboobacker P, Muhammed Abdu Shameem K V, Abdul Hameed resident and Shamshudeen have also been named in the chargesheet.
The NIA investigation revealed that the accused had knowingly conspired since June 2019, raised funds and smuggled around 167 kg of gold into the country from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) between November 2019 and June 2020 through the import cargo addressed to diplomats at the Consulate General of the UAE in Thiruvananthapuram.
The main accused in the case had planned to smuggle more gold from countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
IAS officer M Sivasakar was removed as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the state IT Secretary over his alleged links with Suresh and other accused in the case. He was arrested and released on bail later.