Customs officers held on charge of aiding gold smuggling

Staff Reporter
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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested Customs Deputy Commissioner C. Madhavan and Preventive Officer P.P. Sunilkumar on charge of abetting the smuggling of gold from the Gulf into the country through the Cochin international airport at Nedumbassery. The CBI had summoned the suspects to the agency’s office in Kochi and their arrest was registered subsequently.

CBI sources said the interrogation of Faiz Thondandavida, Harris Abdul Rahman, Arifa Harris and Asifa Veerappoyil, who were arrested in connection with the smuggling, had revealed the role of the accused. “We have gathered other evidence against the accused. We need to interrogate them further to collect more information,” said a CBI official. The accused will be produced in court on Thursday morning.

Madhavan and Sunilkumar allegedly received gifts and money from Faiz in return for their abetment of gold smuggling. Faiz allegedly used his connections with the Customs Department to smuggle gold through Nedumbassery and other airports in the State several times. The alleged collusion between prime suspect Faiz and collaborators in the Customs department helped keep the gold smuggling operations under wraps until Arifa as Asifa were caught last month from the Nedumbassery airport with 10 kg of gold each on their person. A third Customs official, Preventive Officer Sanjay Kumar Soni, has also been accused of abetting smugglers and benefitting from illegal activities. The CBI did not discount more arrests in the case, including that of other officials of the Customs Department.

The CBI special court granted an additional day’s custody of Faiz to the CBI. The court had earlier remanded Faiz and three other accused in CBI custody for six days, till Wednesday afternoon. Asifa and Arifa had been remanded in judicial custody on Saturday. While Harris and Faiz were produced in court, the CBI sought an extension in custody of Faiz till Thursday. The agency is expected to question the Customs officials in Faiz’s presence. The CBI is also looking into mobile phone call records of the main players in the case.

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