The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has accused three officials of the Customs Department, including Deputy Commissioner C. Madhavan, of corruption in connection with the smuggling of gold into the country through the Cochin international airport at Nedumbassery.
Mr. Madhavan and Customs Preventive Officers Sunil Kumar and Sanjay Soni are among seven persons accused in the smuggling case, CBI sources said here on Thursday.
The investigation agency has registered a case against the officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Four others accused are Arifa Harris, Asifa Veerappoyil, and Harris Abdul Rahman, who were arrested from Nedumbassery on September 19, and Fayas Thondandavida, arrested on Monday.
A report by the Customs Department said that Arifa and Asifa, who were arrested with 20 kg of gold on their persons, had smuggled in gold three times before in the same manner. The report was submitted before the Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) Court here on Thursday in response to a bail plea filed by Fayas, a key accused in the case.
The report, by Superintendent of Customs R. Jayachandran, said Asifa had confessed to smuggling in gold bars on August 20 and 28 and on September 12. She allegedly brought in 20 gold bars each, weighing a kilogram, over the three trips. Arifa allegedly made two trips before, bringing in 16 gold bars.
The report quoted the women as saying that they were promised a sum of 1,000 dirhams for each gold bar they brought in. Asifa reportedly told Customs officials that financial strain led them into smuggling gold. According to the Customs report, Asifa said Fayas had handed over the gold to Harris, Arifa’s husband, at the Dubai airport. A man who resembled Fayas, possibly a brother, collected the gold bars from Kochi.
The women allegedly said that they stayed in hotels close to the airport once they landed here, where Harris would hand over the gold to the agent. Arifa, according to Customs, said that Asifa’s husband, Abdulla, had given the gold to Harris. The report quotes her as saying that “a person in Khaki uniform” had collected a television they brought from Dubai at the Cochin airport.
The Customs report said Fayas had confessed to helping smuggle in gold. Fayas had on Wednesday alleged before the ACJM (Economic Offences) Court that Customs officials had tortured him in custody to extract false statements from him. The report filed by the department refuted these allegations.
“The allegation of manhandling of the accused is wholly untrue and is … to plant suspicion on the voluntary statement recorded under Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962. The accused herein had written the statement in his own hand and had affixed his signature on every page of the statement,” said the report.